SIPRI Global Military Expenditure in 2019 – Data published April 2020

DefenceSynergia welcomes the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) latest report on Global Military Spending for 2019 dated April 2020. Observers of United Kingdom defence spending will be interested to note that SIPRI now show (Table 1 page 2) that the UK has fallen from 7th place in 2018 to 8th in 2019, below France 6th and Germany 7th. This is at odds with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) reported data. In explaining this anomaly SIPRI say this ( Box 1 page 8):

There are differences in the definitions countries use for reporting on military expenditure. SIPRI has therefore adopted its own definition as a guideline (see ‘The SIPRI Military Expenditure Database, sources and methods’). …this means that there can be differences between SIPRI’s estimates and the official data reported by countries. For example, SIPRI’s annual estimates of military spending for Germany and the United Kingdom are significantly lower than the ‘defence expenditure’ figures that they report to the NATO. The gap between the SIPRI estimates for these countries and their NATO data has widened in recent years. 

In the case of the United Kingdom (UK). SIPRI’s estimate of the UK’s military expenditure in 2019 is $11.2 billion lower than the figure for ‘defence expenditure’ reported to NATO by the UK. The SIPRI figure is based on public data on expenditure by the British MOD. Other sources, including an assessment by the House of Commons covering 2017, indicate that between $3–4 billion of the NATO figure might be attributable to military pension payments that are in addition to the reported expenditure by the MOD. These are not included in the SIPRI estimate because consistent spending data for the pension scheme could not be traced back for the entire data series. Other spending items that might be part of the UK’s submission to NATO include the UK’s contribution to United Nations peacekeeping operations and the cost of military operations not covered by the MOD budget. However, these additional expenditure items do not fully bridge the $11.2 billion gap. Questions thus remain about what the British Government reports to NATO on its military expenditure.
We leave it to readers to assess what the true level of UK Defence spending is. What is certain to DS is that the National Audit Office report earlier this year clearly identified a deficit in the overheated defence procurement budget – so whatever Her Majesty’s Government claims to spend on Defence it is clearly not enough.