MoD Nuclear Capability scrutinised by City MPG

Stephen Morgan jointly leads Public Accounts Committee on Defence Nuclear Enterprise as scheme faces £2.9 billion affordability gap

MP for Portsmouth South Stephen Morgan has lead a Public Accounts hearing into the Defence Nuclear Enterprise.

The Department maintains a submarine-based nuclear deterrent to support the Government’s national security policy. To do this, the Department relies on a network of programmes, equipment and people, often referred to as the Nuclear Enterprise.

The Committee raised concerns around costs, skills, commercial relationships and delivery to schedule, with the Permanent Secretary and other Ministry of Defence officials.

In 2018-19, the Department forecasts to spend £5.2 billion across the Enterprise, which represents 14% of the Department’s overall budget. It includes £1.8 billion on procuring and supporting submarines, £1.4 billion on the missiles and warheads, £790 million on the propulsion systems and £220 million on managing the Enterprise.

Looking ahead, the Department faces the challenge of needing to bridge a £2.9 billion affordability gap from 2018 to 2028. This assumes the Department realises £3 billion of efficiencies over the next 10 years.

The Department may need to make further use of contingency funding. It has already received, in agreement with HM Treasury, access to £600 million of Dreadnought specific contingency for 2018-19 to ensure it can deliver within its initial 2015 whole-life cost forecast.

Delivering and operating programmes across the Enterprise requires a wide range of military and civilian skills that are in short supply nationally. In January 2018 the Department identified a shortage of 337 skilled personnel across seven military nuclear specialisms.

In response, the Department has developed skills programmes and is consolidating submarine-related training at its naval base in Scotland.

Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“It’s clear some positive changes have been implemented by the Department with regard to cost and performance, but it’s important that, as we head into a crucial time for nuclear defence, our committee is able to kick the tyres and ensure the MoD is taking appropriate measures to bridge the £2.9 billion affordability gap”.