Defence sell-off not over: Fallon

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Published: Wednesday 28th January 2015 by The News Editor

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Surplus airfields, barracks and military vehicles must be sold off to ensure maximum resources are put into front-line forces, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon will warn.

He will hail efficiencies made by the coalition over the past five years and boast that they have been achieved while still maintaining the Nato target for military spending to be 2% of gross domestic product.

But he will insist the “job is far from over” and the Government has to keep “sweating our buildings and land”.

The comments, in a speech to the Institute for Government (IfG), come amid complaints about the scale of cuts to the Armed Forces, with the size of the Army being cut by a fifth to 82,000 and plans to make up the shortfall with reserves.

Prime Minister David Cameron has also refused to commit to maintaining Britain’s defence spending at 2% of GDP after the election.

Mr Fallon is expected to say: “The job’s far from over. With continuing demands on our resources, with the cost of manpower and equipment rising, and with competition from emerging nations increasing efficiency in defence cannot be a one-off.

“As in any big organisation MoD must not merely be match-fit, it must be permanently fit. Every year we should be looking to take out unnecessary cost, to improve productivity, and to sweat our buildings and land so we can better support the front line.

“Over the past four and a half years we have shaken up the system, made big savings, and delivered capabilities. All this while meeting Nato’s 2% and 20% targets. Today defence is fighting fit with a balanced budget able to invest in the kit and people we need to keep Britain safe.”

Contrasting the Government’s current approach with that of the Labour administration, he will say: “In 2010 we inherited a chaotic legacy with a £38 billion budget black hole, taxpayers shouldering the cost of overruns and a culture beset by the inability to take tough and timely decisions.

“The results of our reforms are clear – now there is a balanced budget, cost savings and equipment programmes that are overwhelmingly on time.”

Britain needs to go further in “rationalising our defence estate”, Mr Fallon will say.

“We have got rid of old property we don’t need,” he insists. “Whether it’s an old barracks, a country house, some polo fields, the Old War Office or Brompton Road Tube station sold for £53m. That approach has generated sales of nearly £380 million.

“We’ve taken the same tack with equipment selling 123 surplus armoured vehicles to the Latvian army and bringing in almost £40 million and strengthening friendship with a critical Nato ally.

“Now we need to ask more questions about our assets – do we need 57 separate sites within the M25, how many airfields do we need, how many cars and vehicles do we need, and how do we go further in rationalising our defence estate?”

Published: Wednesday 28th January 2015 by The News Editor

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