Grant Shapps defence spending claim ‘misleading’, says fact checker 

The government has been called out once again for using the £75bn extra spending figure

Grant Shapps interview

Last week the Defence Secretary Grant Shapps announced a new “golden age” of shipbuilding with up to 28 new royal Navy ships and submarines being built or in the pipeline. Shapps claimed, “all of this wouldn’t be possible without the additional £75bn that this government has put into defence.”

However the charity Full Fact had already disputed this figure when Rishi Sunak announced last month that the UK would increase defence spending to 2.5% of GDP by 2023, which the Prime Minister claimed was an extra £75bn. The government has said this will secure the UK as the second largest spender on defence in NATO.

The UK fact checker said the £75bn number is ‘misleading’, because it assumes future spending would have been frozen in cash terms over the next six years, with no increases based on inflation, and that the amount spent would actually have fallen as a percentage of GDP.  

Current UK defence spending is an estimated 2.3% of GDP, meaning the government will spend £64bn in 2024/25. According to Full Fact, if you assume spending would otherwise have been maintained as a percentage of GDP, then the increase by 2030 is actually expected to be more like £20bn. 

An analyst from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) also criticised the claim calling it an “unhelpful way to present the figures” and backed up the suggestion that it was more like an extra £20bn over six years. 

The Director of the IFS agreed, and said the numbers used in describing increases in defence spending are “impenetrable, misleading and internally inconsistent.”

A spokesperson for the Treasury said: “The £75 billion [increase] is compared to the cash amount that we are spending on defence, as of now over the six years…

“That is how we have previously compared an increase in defence spending. We did the same thing at the Spending Review 2020. There are many different ways stats are used and compared. There are obviously other representations, but this is an accurate representation of that change over the six years.”

Full Fact commented: “Ministers and their government departments must use statistics and data more transparently and responsibly, and quickly rectify misleading claims when they occur.”

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward

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