Last year we reported that the Ministry of Defence’s (the Department’s) Equipment Plan was at greater risk of becoming unaffordable than at any time since its inception in 2012. These risks have now increased and the Ministry of Defence simply does not have enough money to buy all the equipment it says it needs. It is worrying that the Department is back in the position it found itself in earlier in the decade. The Equipment Plan for 2017 to 2027 is not realistic and the Department lacks cost control. A significant affordability gap has again opened up; with forecast costs at least £4.9 billion, and potentially as much as £20.8 billion, more than the £179.7 billion budget. The Department is reluctant to present openly an assessment of the affordability gap and has failed to report transparently to Parliament and the public about the financial risks it faces. The Department has put its faith in the Modernising Defence Programme to solve its affordability issues and to prepare for the continued challenges of a fast-changing defence landscape, including the UK’s capabilities for cyber, chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and electromagnetic attacks. We are highly sceptical that the Modernising Defence Programme will be able to return the Department to a balanced position.
Published: 11 May 2018