Defence sector review reveals sizeable contribution made to Britain’s economy
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The significant contribution of the defence sector to the UK economy has been laid out in a new report and may be used by the defence secretary Gavin Williamson to argue for a larger military budget from the government.
The review was commissioned by Williamson after he launched the Modernising Defence Programme (MDP) to strengthen the Armed Forces in the face of intensifying threats, alongside the Prime Minister and the Chancellor.
Former minister Philip Dunne led the report, which states that the sector creates thousands of specialist and highly-skilled jobs and creates billions of pounds in exports.
The industry was found to have an annual turnover of £22bn and around 500,000 people were working directly or indirectly in the defence sector, including 25,500 apprentices.
A report last month found that the Ministry of Defence was “too focused on identifying cyber risks” instead of “neutralising them” and called for a significant budget boost for Britain’s armed forces.
“Philip Dunne’s review shows how vital defence is, not only protecting us from global dangers and safeguarding our national prosperity, but also to our economy by creating thousands of specialist and highly-skilled jobs and creating billions in exports,” Williamson said.
“He paints a clear picture of how defence and defence industry reaches every corner of the UK and is central to employment in so many cities and towns. He lays down some key challenges to consider as our Modernising Defence Programme continues to ensure defence is the best it can be in a post-Brexit Britain.”
The report also found that the sector, including the Ministry of Defence (MoD), is the third-largest landowner in the country with 220,000 hectares and often benefiting remote and rural communities.
In addition to the MoD budget of almost £37bn, the defence sector’s direct contribution to GDP includes more than £7bn of exports generated each year on average.
Dunne said: “Defence has made a number of important steps in meeting its prosperity objective. It makes a major contribution to our economic well-being, with 500,000 people working directly and indirectly in defence and over 25,500 apprentices developing skills. In several local communities, defence is one of the leading providers of high-skilled jobs.
“But there is more that can be done, as defence has to adapt to rapidly evolving technological threats, so too should it seize the opportunities to adapt and improve its own processes to help meet the challenges of the high-tech defence future.”
A senior officer recently said that a mobile phone app that is being used by the British military in the field was a “game changer”.