Defence defiance

Cuts in UK defence spending will stall economic recovery and damage our national security. These are the warnings at the heart of two reports published this week by trade body The Defence Industry Council.

The reports, launched amidst fears that following the next election defence spending will face significant cuts looks at both the support industry gives to the armed forces and the contribution the industry makes to the UK economy.

Speaking at the launch of the documents yesterday in London, DIC Chairman Mike Turner – who is also Chairman of Babcock international – claimed that increased government investment in the defence industry is essential for the future security and prosperity of the UK.

While critics might argue that that Britain’s recent military activities have done little to enhance global or national security, the importance of the industry to the domestic economy and engineers in general is plain to see.

The sector currently employs 300,000 people in the UK, supplies 10 per cent of all manufacturing jobs in the UK and earns £5bn in export sales each year and carries out research and stimulates growth in a host of other sectors.

Indeed, according to the report, 1.6 new jobs are created elsewhere in the economy for every new job created in the defence industry.

But defence isn’t the only sector of industry that could and should play a major role in a rebalanced economy. Indeed, the calls for greater, not less, government spending are just as compelling when they are made by other areas of our manufacturing industry.

For instance, energy and transport infrastructure might be equally important creators of jobs and certainly of no less importance to the future security and prosperity of the UK.

Jon Excell, Deputy Editor