Defence Secretary Hammond warns to “cut welfare, not troops”
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond told The Telegraph he will be “fighting the case for the defence budget” in the upcoming spending review.
After “very large cuts to defence” Hammond said “we have to look at the welfare budget again”.
Defence secretary since 2011 and Conservative MP for Runneymede and Weybridge, Hammond continued: “The welfare budget is the bit of public spending that has risen the furthest and the fastest.”
The 2013 budget will be made by Chancellor George Osborne, with a statement to Parliament on Wednesday 20th March 2013.
Hammond said on possible further military cuts: “We can’t go on doing that…without having significant impact on military capability.”
The 2010 spending review on Defence and Security states: “The Spending Review fully funds Britain’s operations in Afghanistan, and targets investment on cyber defence and other expected future threats.”
It also shows a rise in the Defence Departmental Capital budget, from £8.6 billion in 2010, to £9.2 billion this year.
The Spending Reviews forecast of Annually Managed Expenditure (AME) for total welfare cost was £32.9 billion in 2011 and £599 billion in 2013.
Prime Minister David Cameron has hinted at dipping into the International Development budget to help ease military costs. The International Development predicted budget is £7.2 – £9.4 billion for 2012-2014.
The Ministry of Defence says its main priorities for 2013 are to continue military involvement in Afghanistan until 2014, and to continue “defence commitments at home and across the world” and to “continue the transformation of defence through the restructuring of the armed forces to create a simpler and more effective organisation at a lower cost to the taxpayer”.
There are currently 9,500 military in Afghanistan. The government spent £700 million in 2006/7 and over £3.7 billion in Afghanistan in 2009/10. There is also an aid programme for Afghanistan and Pakistan worth more than £1 billion (over four years).
Also, £15 million was spent on “security services” in Pakistan and £32 million for “humanitarian assistance in the region”. And more than £1 billion on 1,000 “protected vehicles”.
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said in his 2012 August statement there was a 1% rise for those in receipt of benefits “that is fair and will ensure that we have a welfare system that Britain can afford”.