Further cuts to defence budget an ‘absolute disgrace’ military experts say

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Today’s announcement that the Ministry of Defence will face another £500m of funding cuts this year is an ‘absolute disgrace’ according to a group of military experts.

Chancellor George Osborne today announced the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will make one of the largest contributions to £3bn of savings in this financial year.

Conservative MPs should be hanging their heads in shame that a Tory government is, once again, preparing to cut the armed forces, at a time when threats to UK security are growing and the need for Britain to be militarily strong is greater than ever

Andy Smith, UK National Defence Association

The MoD said it would make the cuts through ‘further savings and efficiencies’ but said it would not impact the government’s commitment to spending two per cent of GDP on the defence budget.

It also said it will not mean any further cuts to the armed forces nor will it impact any current operations.

But Andy Smith, the chief executive of the Portsmouth-based UK National Defence Association, said: ‘We cannot afford to do this.’

He said: ‘The Chancellor’s announcement today that Britain’s military will face another £500m of funding cuts this year, even before we have had the scheduled Defence Review, is an absolute disgrace.

‘Conservative MPs should be hanging their heads in shame that a Tory government is, once again, preparing to cut the armed forces, at a time when threats to UK security are growing and the need for Britain to be militarily strong is greater than ever.

‘We have already had cut after cut to our forces since 2010, with tens of thousands of servicemen and women made redundant and essential defence capabilities lost.

‘Cutting defence is a false economy. As a nation we cannot afford to do this. The prime minister is forever saying that national security is “the first duty of government” but clearly he does not mean it.’

In a statement, the MoD said the figure represents 1.5 per cent of the overall defence budget.

A spokesperson said: ‘You would expect MoD to play a part in the government’s ongoing commitment to reduce the deficit.

‘As part of the Chancellor’s announcement, we have agreed to make a further £500m of savings and adjustments in this financial year.

‘This amounts to 1.5 per cent of the overall defence budget.

‘This agreement will not impact on the baseline defence budget, manpower numbers or current operations. The UK will continue to spend 2 per cent of GDP on defence in this financial year.’