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    Grant Shapps accused of 'playing fast and loose' with spending figures

    The figure mentioned by Grant Shapps is almost a fifth higher than the £242 billion figure included in last year's plan. Photo: POL. GROVER FOR THE TELEGRAPH

    Grant Shapps has been accused of inflating the Ministry of Defense budget by more than £40 billion by saying “I have £288 billion” to spend on equipment over the next decade.

    In recent weeks, the Defense Secretary has repeatedly cited £288 billion as a 10-year equipment budget for the armed forces.

    Last month Mr Shapps told the BBC: “I already have a lot more money to spend; For example, £288 billion will be spent on equipment over the next decade.”

    The figure contained in the Ministry of Defense's latest 10-year equipment plan represents an increase of almost a fifth (19 per cent) on the £242 billion figure included in the previous year's plan.

    The National Audit report shows that much of the increase “occurs because the Ministry of Defense forecasts that over 10 years it will receive additional funding of £34.5 billion for nuclear budgets and £9.4 billion for non-nuclear budgets.”

    < p>The apparent inconsistency was highlighted by Francis Tusa, editor of the journal Defense Analysis, who asked how the Department of Defense could be “allowed to operate within fantastic budgets.”

    A MoD source insisted that “[that’s] how these long-term budgets usually work, so there’s nothing wrong with the accounting. And the Treasury continues to be involved in coordinating the details.”

    But Mr Tusa said: “I would like to tell my bank manager that I predict my income will grow by 20 percent over the next few years, but without having to show them where the money is coming from.” . where was he going to come from?

    The increase, he said, was “an attempt by the Department of Defense to get money.”

    Last month the Defense Secretary told the BBC he “already has a lot more money to spend”. Photo: JEFF OVERS/BBC/PA

    John Healey, the shadow defense secretary, said: “For 14 years the Conservatives have failed to tackle deep-rooted problems in defence. Ministers playing fast and loose with defense budget figures is making it even more difficult to solve the problems facing our UK forces.

    “The Conservatives are letting down British troops and British taxpayers. Given the war in Europe and the conflict in the Middle East, this risks leaving our Armed Forces without the equipment needed to fight and meet our NATO obligations.”

    The report comes after a year-long Defense Select Committee found that the Government will “never achieve combat or strategic readiness” without urgent reforms to reverse the recruitment crisis and dramatically increase Britain's stockpiles of arms and weapons. ammunition.

    In a scathing report published last weekend, MPs said the Armed Forces needed more funding to “engage in operations while developing operational readiness” or face reducing the “operational burden” on the armed forces. The committee found that £1.95 billion of funding allocated in last spring's Budget could now be used to cover defense shortfalls rather than to replenish and increase stockpiles.

    A Ministry of Defense spokesman said: “In this more dangerous world, this Government is committed to ensuring that our Armed Forces are adequately equipped and trained to keep Britain safe.

    “Last year we announced £5 billion in additional defense funding and remain committed to increasing defense spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP as soon as economic and financial conditions allow.

    “The 2022-2032 Facilities Plan does not include last year's budget increase and does not reflect the Department's updated policy intent as set out in the 2023 Defense Command Paper to address the economic and security challenges identified by the Government through the 2023 Integrated Review .

    The increase in the plan budget reflects adjustments to the department's estimated ten-year planning set by HM Treasury, including baseline costs where agreed. This is a normal part of defense planning and allows the Department to plan investments in long-term programs.”

    A source close to Mr Shapps added: “In a week in which Labor has made chaotic decisions about its £28 billion environmental investment, it is laughable that they are giving advice on budgets. The fact is that we have a defense plan, but they have no idea.”

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