The cross-party Commons’ defence committee said that the government may only have met its pledge to spend a minimum of 2% of GDP on defence by accounting changes which saw the inclusion of items not previously included, such as intelligence gathering and war pensions, as well as one-off items.
“The only way that the Ministry of Defence can refute claims of ‘creative accounting’ is to outline, clearly and unambiguously, what the new inclusions are, how much they constitute and from which department each was previously funded,” the report says.
Dai Hudd, deputy general secretary for the union Prospect, which represents more than 10,000 public and private sector defence specialists, said: “We warmly welcomed the Chancellor’s 2015 budget commitment on defence spending, which we had long campaigned for.
“It is therefore extremely disappointing that ministers have failed to provide a breakdown of expenditure that would allow us to understand if and how spending has increased. We are all in favour of taking a broader, joined-up view of defence to include items like intelligence gathering, but given the lack of data we can’t tell if spending in this area has increased, stayed the same, or fallen.
“At the time of George Osborne’s announcement Prospect said it was an important step in safeguarding the skills of our members and therefore British defence capabilities. The MoD must seek to provide swift and clear answers to the important questions raised by the defence committee, if the industry is not to be further undermined. We need a clear understanding of how the 2% pledge is being and, more importantly, will be met in the future.”
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