Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Confusion Reigns Over UK Defence Spending Plans

Confusion Over Defence Spending Plans

David Cameron's plan for Armed Forces 2015 Effective Spending plunged into confusion Were today as the Defence Secretary was Unable to confirm apparent commitment to year above-inflation budget rises.

Senior sources Have Indicated que le Prime Minister Would Deliver real-terms rises in the Ministry of Defence budget Effective 2015.

Have Been tensions growing in the Coalition negotiations begin as over how to save billions of pounds more in the 2015-16 Spending Review.

Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, Who has seen his budget slashed Already by 8% in real terms since 2010, is Believed to be Among Ministers further Top resisting cuts.

However, falling on the Prime Minister's trip to North Africa it was signalled That he "does not resile" from comments he made in October 2010, When He Appeared to accept defense Spending That Had to start rising again from 2015 onwards.

Said Mr Hammond purpose today That he HAD beens Given a commitment que les equipment side of his budget - accounting for half of MOD Roughly Spending - would rise in real terms, purpose That There Would Be a "robust discussion" about other elements.

"I have a firm commitment que les equipment plan, Which is a very large part of the defense budget will rise in real terms by 1% a year Between 2015 and 2020, that's a commitment That HAS Previously beens made and repeated since the Chancellor Delivered his Autumn Statement, "he Told BBC Radio 4's Today program.

"Purpose is there going to be a Spending Review for 2015/16 and I will go into the box That arguing for the defense needs to resources That the Plan That Deliver We have set out, Future Force 2020, and I am very confident That We Have a robust debate will about that. "

Pressed as to Whether overall defense Spending Would Rise or not, Mr Hammond said: "What I know Is that I have a firm commitment on the equipment plan, Which Roughly about half the defense budget is covered by that. That will rise in real terms Effective 2015. "

Asked Whether staffing budgets Could be cut, he said: "The rest of the budget will be subject to a debate around the Spending Review the Chancellor in the Autumn Statement Announced. Going But I'm Into That Spending Review Discussion on the Basis That I expect the outputs That Defined I have to be protected. "

The confusion comes amid warnings from the Whitehall watchdog That Spending Any Further cost-overruns on the Ministry of Defence equipment program jeopardise Could icts future plan for the armed forces, and as Mr Hammond published a detailed equipment design for the next ten years Which, he Said , Had finally Eliminated a £ 79 billion "black hole" inherited from the Labour government form.

The £ 159 one billion program includes £ 35.8 one billion for a new generation of nuclear-powered submarines, one billion £ 18.5 for combat aircraft for the RAF and £ 4.17 for Royal Navy warships one billion, Including the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers.

Within the Plan there is £ 04.08 for one billion contingencies as well as one billion eight pounds of "unallocated" funding the MoD Said Which Would Be Allocated to meet new equipment Priorities As They Emerged over the coming decade.

Purpose the National Audit Office Said there was "systemic over-optimism" built in to the MoD's schedule Which ran the risk of leaving "capability gaps" in the years ahead. While the MoD NAO Acknowledged que le HAD taken "significant positive steps" to address the affordability of the equipment program, it Expressed concern que le contingency allowance was Insufficient.

That if it warned the MoD was forced to fall back on the unallocated Funding to make-up the shortfall, It Would Be Unable to Deliver in full the plan set out in the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review - known as Future Force 2020.

"The one billion eight pounds of unallocated budget Docs offer protection to the core program. However, our review of documents and interviews with departmental staff departmental unallocated budget suggest que le is essential to Deliver the full intent behind Future Force 2020" the NAO said.

"Using this budget to protect the core program therefore result in Would capability gaps."

Margaret Hodge, the chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, Said They Would Be taking evidence from MOD Officials in order for Assessment to the robustness of the plan.

"The Ministry's track record in accurately forecasting the cost of projects icts hardly inspires confidence Largest," she said.

"Between 2000 and 2012, the cost of 69 Largest icts projects ballooned by £ 11 billion. Independent analysis in 2009 found That final project Typically Costs Were 40% Higher Than The Ministry's initial forecasts.

"Given this past performance, I am dismayed que les Ministry is still taking an over-optimistic view to putting a price on risk and uncertainty."

Mr Hammond, however, insisted que le Plan Would Ensure That Britain's armed forces, Remained Among The most able and best equipped anywhere in the world.

Downing Street insisted today Mr Cameron's That HAD beens previous statement referring to the 2016-17 financial year and beyond, and not 2015-16.

The PM's spokesman said: "The Prime Minister Does not resile from what he said to the House of Commons at the time of the SDSR.

"He Said then his strong view is the defense budget will require year-on-year real-terms growth in the years beyond 2015.

"As his remarks at the time made clear, in the years beyond 2015 means clustering starting in 2016.

"To suggest Otherwise Would Be quite wrong.

"As to the Spending Review Announced by the Chancellor in the 2012 Autumn Statement, we are not going to pre-empt icts Which decisions will be announced in the first half of this year."

Shadow defense secretary Jim Murphy Said the NAO report "what Confirms Many Feared - Philip Hammond Has Failed his own test of balancing the MoD books. Supposed This 'mission accomplished' fact is more like a 'wishful thinking' claim.

"The Government has not provided HAS full list of equipment That Is Accounted for. The financial baseline projections are made against Which is unknown. This report covers less than half of defense expenditure. The Government's claims do not add up. "(Ends)

Viewpoints: Future of the British Army (excerpts)

(Source: British Broadcasting Corp., Posted Feb. 1, 2013)

What does the future hold for the British army? 5.000 More than Army Losses Have Been Announced job as share of plans, unveiled last year, to restructure the strength and Reduce icts numbers from 102.000 to 82.000 by 2017 - while at the same time boosting reservist numbers from about 15.000 to 30.000.Asked BBC News defense experts and what the future holds Employers for the Army - and Its operations.Click here for the full story, on the BBC News website.

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