With the budget less than a week away our two chapters in this year’s IFS Green Budget are proving highly relevant.
While the Chancellor will benefit from prudence in previous forecasts, the underlying position remains extremely challenging. Total public liabilities are £4.3tn or 214% of GDP, while an increasingly long-lived population places ever greater demands on the state.
One area where spending pressure may be unavoidable is Defence where a higher level of perceived threat, may result in higher spending. The Defence Select Committee has even suggested an extra £20bn a year may be needed.
The burden would be less if all NATO members met the 2% defence and security spending commitment. This would lead to an extra £83bn of spending across NATO. The UK meets this threshold: spending £43bn, or 2.1% of GDP. Persuading our allies to meet this target would boost our collective defence with no extra funding by the UK taxpayer.
Less likely to gain traction is President Trump’s suggestion that NATO members spend 4% of GDP. This implies a £38bn increase in defence spending by the UK and proportionately much greater increases by most NATO members.
Watch this space and stay in touch with the Budget with ICAEW at https://www.icaew.com/technical/economy/uk-budget-2018.