In 2010, the UK spent 2.47% of GDP on defence, last year it was 2.28%.

Gross domestic product (GDP) is a monetary measure of the market value of all the final goods and services produced in a specific time period by a country or countries. GDP is more often used by the government of a single country to measure its economic health

NATO’s published figures for UK defence spending as a percentage of GDP spend since 2010 are below.

YearShare of GDP
20102.47
20112.38
20122.16
20132.24
20142.14
20152.03
20162.09
20172.08
20182.10
20192.08
20202.35
20212.29
20222.29
20232.28
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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Adrian
Adrian (@guest_810059)
1 month ago

It puts it into perspective all the aspirations for 2.5%of gpd only restores it back to 2010 levels, which is still massive cuts from historic levels. 2.5 should be the baseline and aspiration should be 3 so on a yearly basis it will vary between those figures depending on the defence tasks, exercises and equipment budgets for that year

Jim
Jim (@guest_810134)
1 month ago
Reply to  Adrian

The recent rise is only down to Ukraine funding. The real figure is still close to 2%. 2.5% on core military budget would be plenty as outlined in SDR 98.

Dern
Dern (@guest_810160)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

It also includes things like Pension etc to get the number up to 2%

Arson Fire
Arson Fire (@guest_811030)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

Glad to see someone else also interrogated the numbers. This is exactly right!

Darryl2164
Darryl2164 (@guest_810251)
1 month ago
Reply to  Adrian

Have to disagree slightly , 3% should be a minimum baseline for now but we need to get back to historic levels of 4% as a minimum . I also believe we need an act of parliament so no future government can put the defence of the realm in jeopardy by the savage cuts we have witnessed over the last 30 years . Maybe adopt the US system where their Congress gets a say in what’s needed , our parliamentary defence committee could maybe play the same role with defence chiefs on board as well .

PaulW
PaulW (@guest_810064)
1 month ago

And then if you consider the costs that have been transferred into the defence budget, ie. pension, deterrent, Ukraine support, etc. you start to see how poorly the MoD are funded, relative to the cold war period.

Jason Barnes
Jason Barnes (@guest_810069)
1 month ago
Reply to  PaulW

Precisely. Cameron heaped things into the budget, such as foreign aid and making the nuclear deterrent a specifically navy responsibility, which had never been there before – all while trumpeting a big increase.

Historical comparisons are meaningless as they don’t allow a like-for-like. Until we do that, arguing that we’re at historical low levels is still rather meaningless. Or to put it another way, we need to be way beyond 3 percent if all of Cameron’s extras are still to be regarded as ‘defence’ spending.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay (@guest_810076)
1 month ago
Reply to  PaulW

Pensions and wages are a part of every nations defence budget. That is nothing new. And the annual operating cost of the nuclear deterrent is about 6% of the annual defence budget.

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_810103)
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

It’s not the Opex that’s the problem, it’s the 30 year replacement cycle that clobbers the Capex.
Unfortunately what makes it far worse is that due to the stupidity of previous Governments who delayed lots of other replacement cycles.
The result it we are replacing CASD at the same time as most of the surface fleet and just when we could do with increasing the Airforce and replacing the Army AFV’s.

A lot of it was down to Mr Camelune, he delayed or put back way to many projects.

Simon
Simon (@guest_810423)
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

There was an article on the BBC that said it was 6%. It would be interesting to know what the pensions cost was. it dosent seem easy to find that information,

Steve
Steve (@guest_810079)
1 month ago

It frustrates me that the media is so much in the pocket of the government that they don’t properly challenge them. I keep reading that the government is increasing defence expenditure and adding extra money etc and yet the stats clearly indicate this is all lies.

If the gdp of the country was increasing you could understand that maybe it wasn’t keeping up with it but it’s been flatline pretty much for the last decade, so the amount spent must be going down.

Last edited 1 month ago by Steve
John
John (@guest_810084)
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

Mate, “media” is nothing but a mouthpiece for politicians who are lobbied, bought and bribed by corporate interests. Any look at Ruperts meddling over decades confirms that.

Steve
Steve (@guest_810127)
1 month ago
Reply to  John

Being owned by foreign tax exiles doesn’t so much bother me if they do their job right and actually report facts but they seem these days too lazy to fact check stuff and just publish the official statement from politicians

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_810125)
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

Agreed. Many posters here know their stuff enough to properly hold their feet to the fire. But we are a quiet voice in the wilderness.

jack
jack (@guest_810080)
1 month ago

Don’t forget that military pensions and benefits are also included in these figures….

Michael Hannah
Michael Hannah (@guest_810095)
1 month ago

Bottom line, walking quietly in the world while carrying a big stick is the best deterrent there is.
Despite what the Labour left wing thinks, education, health , social support mean nothing if the country is defenceless.

John Clark
John Clark (@guest_810106)
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

Unfortunately Michael, defence is a very low priority.

Spending priorities of the self serving Westminster mafia.

What is likely to get us elected??

Spend as per that list.

That’s it.

Most people have absolutely zero interest in defence, most politicians are only interested in keeping their noses in the trough.

It’s really that simple.

John
John (@guest_810126)
1 month ago

The Tories are currently so inept that they don’t realise increasing defence spending is actually a vote winner.

Jonno
Jonno (@guest_810143)
1 month ago
Reply to  John

Too right, I will vote for anyone who actually gets the job done at 3% for starters. Spend on equipment should be a win win but much goes to the States. Why is this because we have so run down our forces over the past 20 years that when you want to increase your defence spend the whole industry has been hollowed out and you have to import stuff. The Army has been the case in point. There are two causes. One they couldn’t help; we were engaged in brush and desert anti insurgency. The other; I do feel there… Read more »

Morpheus
Morpheus (@guest_810128)
1 month ago

I recently read an article on the new missiles for Dreadnought. I found it quiet scary to think that Nuclear missles are so cheap, £17 million. does anyone know if thats just the missle, warheads or both.

Jim
Jim (@guest_810155)
1 month ago
Reply to  Morpheus

That’s the cost of each trident missile but remember most of them were built in the 80’s so look very cheap by today’s standards. If you look at sentinal missiles the US is building today your looking at $160 million each.

DB
DB (@guest_810170)
1 month ago

5, GCHQ and others, IIRC, along with deterrent were also brought into the conventional budget by the Cons, so a massive cut in GDP for conventional forces.

Should you report a timeline, annotate the changes that happened in accounting years.

Cons conning, till the end.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker (@guest_810177)
1 month ago
Reply to  DB

It would be great if someone could work out what the actual defence budget is relative to what was in the budget pre 2010. Just for kicks they could add in what got added at what time and how much that was.
I don’t have the time unfortunately

DB
DB (@guest_810179)
1 month ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Daniele, fancy a new spreadsheet?

Jon
Jon (@guest_810238)
1 month ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

The Defence Select Comittee claimed in the mid/late 2010’s (around 2017 from vague memories) that it couldn’t calculate that number as the government has shrouded the basis on which the figures were calculated. Julian Lewis, the then Committee chair, said he thought it might be 1.8% on the old basis, so about 0.3% added fat, but he was offering that up for comment and validation rather than saying it as an absolute.

Ryan Brewis
Ryan Brewis (@guest_810215)
1 month ago

On a similar topic, thoughts on the supposed merger of the RAMC, RAVC, RADC and QARANC?
Got the Telegraph mob foaming at the mouth as usual.

DB
DB (@guest_810370)
1 month ago
Reply to  Ryan Brewis

Well, if I can see a paramilitary police force formed by all service police, modplod, CNC and BTP, why not?

Graham M
Graham M (@guest_810619)
1 month ago
Reply to  Ryan Brewis

What would be the advantages?

Andrew D
Andrew D (@guest_810275)
1 month ago

We had our problems in the 80s ,Economy , big unemployment etc .And yet we have war in Europe and the Middle East is on fire 🔥 and China on the horizon and we spend just over 2% .IT’S had some what of a good 2 year warning with Ukraine -USSR and still the government do nothing. 😕 🇬🇧

david anthony simpson
david anthony simpson (@guest_810668)
1 month ago

George it would have been good to see actually GDP figures both annual total and what the percentage was in proportional figure terms too…. then a final column with the spending sum adjusted for inflation…that would tell a sadder story

Martin
Martin (@guest_811325)
1 month ago

I’m not an expert in any area of defence, so I don’t know where money would be best spent. However keeping defence spending at only 2.5% gives Putin the message that the UK is not serious in its deterrent posturing. I think we have been making that mistake since at least 2012 possibly earlier. Russia has carried out a huge increase in defence spending since 2022 and we need to increase our spending quickly. 3% this year with more in 2025-26. It might be difficult to spend more on new systems this year but we could maximize spend on ammunition… Read more »

Graham M
Graham M (@guest_811355)
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin

If only we did now spend 2.5% on Defence! It has varied between 2.1 and 2.3 in the last 3 years. Included in that figure is veterans pensions, much non-defence intelligence, the nuclear deterrent, and military support to Ukraine!

I had not heard that service pay had eroded since 2008 – where does that info come from?

Cognitio68
Cognitio68 (@guest_811382)
1 month ago

There is something really, really wrong with the decision making coming out of Downing Street. It’s neither rational nor is it particurlarly Conservative. In fact it seems to be quite hostile and contemptuous of it’s supporters. It’s very, very peculiar. Which leads us to contemplate either it’s a sick decison making machine locked into psychologically flawed worldview or instead it isn’t what we expect it to be. It is in reality highly disintersted in Defence except perhaps in that once in a while it provides a nice photo op.