The government is wasting up to 2.5 billion pounds a year due to delays in defence projects, Channel 4 news reported on Wednesday. Channel 4 said the figure was drawn from a report which the government had commissioned but had not published because it was too embarrassed by its contents. The defence budget is under pressure as government borrowing soars due to the recession. The government is also facing repeated accusations that it is failing to provide troops in Afghanistan with the helicopters and armoured vehicles they need. Channel 4 said the report, by former Ministry of Defence aide Bernard Gray, concluded that the government was wasting between 1.5 billion and 2.5 billion pounds a year because of incompetent defence procurement decisions. It did not disclose its source for the information.
The network said the government could afford only two thirds of the defence equipment it was buying. When it ran out of cash it had to delay projects, but costs continued to mount up as workers had to be paid. A decision last December to delay a contract for two Royal Navy aircraft carriers by up to two years could cost more than 500 million pounds, Channel 4 said.