Percent of GDP

Their Lordships sometimes ask defence related questions.

Lord Wigley (Plaid Cymru)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the projected out-turn for defence expenditure in the current financial year; what proportion of the United Kingdom’s gross domestic product that figure represents; and what were the comparable figures in each of the previous five years. 

Lord Astor of Hever (Conservative)

As set out in the Department’s 2013-14 Supplementary Estimate, defence expenditure is projected to outturn at approximately £33,560 million.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) estimate gross domestic product (GDP) for this financial year to be £1,642,000 million. The proportion of projected outturn to GDP for this financial year is 2%.

Out-turn defence expenditure excludes the cost of military operations and is not the basis upon which the official NATO figure of defence spending as a proportion of GDP is calculated. For comparison, UK defence spending under the NATO definition is expected to be approximately 2.4% this year.

For the previous five financial years (FY) the proportion of outturn to GDP has been:

FY GDP Proportion Defence Outturn £ million GDP £ million
2012-13 2.2% 34,360 1,573,541
2011-12 2.4% 37,169 1,549,085
2010-11 2.6% 39,461 1,502,176
2009-10 2.8% 40,246 1,432,213
2008-09 2.7% 38,579 1,442,253

Outturn is recorded as the sum of Resource DEL plus Capital DEL minus Depreciation and Impairments.

Defence outturn figures are published at the following link:

Previous year GDP figures are published at the following link: _Qtrly_National_Accounts_December_2013_update.xls


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Malcolm Whitlock
Malcolm Whitlock
March 26, 2014 1:01 pm

I wonder what the average figures were during the “Cold War” period.- 3.5%?

March 26, 2014 1:25 pm

Y U not ask Google?

March 26, 2014 6:41 pm

But we are goiing under 2 % !

When, in fact we were at 2.7 at the time of those tabloid headlines… Won’t even qualify for NATO for much longer!
– or, as the article says, at 2.4 % now

March 26, 2014 6:45 pm
Reply to  accattd

Two percent is important politically because it defines the argument over what purpose the public sees the armed forces as fulfilling.

A continental style defence force, or a tool of an activist foreign policy.

Malcolm Whitlock
Malcolm Whitlock
March 26, 2014 6:46 pm
Reply to  S O

Thank you.

Malcolm Whitlock
Malcolm Whitlock
March 26, 2014 6:47 pm
Reply to  thinkdefence

Merci buckets.

March 27, 2014 7:52 am

Interesting that Obama commented “NATO can’t just be a U.S. or British exercise.” Sounds like there is more going on than just defence spending to me.

March 27, 2014 8:10 am
Reply to  Jedibeeftrix

“Mr Obama’s strong message included harsh criticism of low European defence

“The situation in Ukraine reminds us that our freedom isn’t free and
we’ve got to be willing to pay for the assets, the personnel, the training
that’s required to make sure that we have a credible Nato force and an
effective deterrent force,” he said.

Praising Britain for making a higher than average contribution to Nato
missions around the world, he demanded a review of European military
spending “to examine whether everybody is chipping in”.

“This can’t just be a US or a British exercise, everybody’s going to have
to make sure that they are engaged and involved,” he said.”

When the US looks at european NATO dos it see a partner or a leech?

March 27, 2014 9:36 am
Reply to  Jedibeeftrix

No mincing of the words. The departure speech by Bob ” to an old friend” was also in Brussels, but put the same content much more diplomatically, as if excusing the Pivot to Asia. The latter, this much later, is now a fact of life.

Anyone know about the US army in Europe. A couple oofyears ago there were
– one heavy bde left in Germany
– one airborne in Italy (don’t know if that ever was permanent)
– one Stryker bde in Romania (again, that one may have served the purpose of an OTH reserve for the M East).

March 27, 2014 11:02 am

I think our minimum floor for defence spending will be the 2% of GDP NATO figure but we can see that that floor is still quite a bit lower than current expenditure. Another cut of 0.4% of GDP around £8 billion would be quite devastating for the forces. equal to the entire land forces budget.

March 27, 2014 1:28 pm
Reply to  Martin

If operational costs lower significantly we will still need to meet the 2.0% floor, without any less capability funding necessarily.

The noughties cannot be considered normal jogging by any means.

May 2, 2014 6:18 pm

interesting, watch it;

i sincerely hope that core defence spending will effectively be boosted by our embarrassment at missing the nato requirments, artificially propped up as they are by operational spending.