The government’s major hike in defence spending to 3 percent went unreported in Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s first mini-budget, despite Prime Minister Liz Truss’s doubling down on her campaign trail commitment at the UN this week.
Friday’s “fiscal statement” unveiled a package of measures – including a cut to income tax, stamp duty, and the removal of a cap on bankers’ bonuses – aimed at tackling the cost of living crisis. Treasury documents reveal that the true cost of the cuts between 2023-2024 will total around £37 billion, with the government relying on additional borrowing to fund it. Other measures include a previously announced freeze on energy bills, as well as legislation to force trade union leaders to put pay increase offers to members before a strike is called.
However, news of the plan to increase British defence spending from 2 to 3 percent of GDP was notably absent. That’s despite Liz Truss announcing the increase during her speech to world leaders at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday. The increase will see Britain’s defence bill jump massively by 2030. According to the deputy director-general of the Royal United Services Institute think tank, “To deliver on its commitment to spend 3% of GDP on defence by 2030, Liz Truss’s government will need to increase defence spending by about 60% in real terms,” … “This is equivalent to about £157 billion in additional spending over the next eight years, compared with current planning assumptions.”
Truss has also commissioned an updated defence and foreign policy review which is due to report by the end of 2022. This will update the Integrated Review published by Boris Johnson in March 2021. It is anticipated that the new review will reverse troop reductions, increase spending and reinforce a militarisation against both Russia and China.
CND General Secretary Kate Hudson called on the government to abandon plans to massively increase military spending and focus on meeting the needs of our communities, struggling with rising inflation, hunger and fuel poverty: “This government is on a disastrous track, ramping up militarisation that contributes to the risk of nuclear war, and spending money on weapons instead of wages, welfare, and tackling the climate crisis. We need a new set of priorities determining public spending and the values of this country.”