Rachel Hopkins MP condemns billions of pounds of waste in the Ministry of Defence

The Ministry of Defence has wasted billions of pounds at the same time as slashing Army numbers and freezing pay, finds dossier published today.

This has been revealed in Labour’s “Dossier of Waste in the Ministry of Defence” which found that the government has wasted at least £13 billion of taxpayers’ money on 67 officially confirmed cases of MoD waste since 2010.

Labour’s audit examines the extent of waste within the MoD, the cost of which could have been avoided or reduced by better MoD judgement or management. Analysis found that Ministers’ mismanagement at the Ministry of Defence has led to £4.8 billion of taxpayers’ money being handed out for cancelled contracts and £5.6 billion on overspent projects.

If this wasted public money had been reduced, funding could have been available to support the UK’s Armed Forces and avoid cuts forced by budget pressures to troops, planes, ships and vital equipment.

The National Audit Office (NAO) has declared the defence equipment plan “unaffordable” for the last four years in a row, and the Public Accounts Committee said that the Ministry of Defence’s procurement system is “broken and is repeatedly wasting taxpayers’ money”.

A Labour government would make the Ministry of Defence the first department subject to its new Office for Value for Money’s tough spending regime and commission the NAO to conduct an audit of Ministry of Defence waste to get to grips with these problems.

Rachel Hopkins MP said

“Labour’s dossier confirms that Tory MoD Ministers don’t have a grip on the problems in their own department. The MoD has wasted billions at the same time as cutting Army numbers and freezing pay.

The Tory government is failing frontline forces and taxpayers and shows no serious intent to address its deep seated failings. Only Labour has a plan to tackle them.”

Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey said:

“The Ministry of Defence is a uniquely failing department. Labour’s audit confirms at least £13B in taxpayers’ money has been wasted since 2010, with £4B wasted while the present Defence Secretary has been in post.

Ministers are failing British troops and British taxpayers, and this audit is Labour’s first step in fixing the failing system. We would ensure the Ministry of Defence is the first department subject to our new Office for Value for Money’s new tough spending regime and commission to NAO to get to the bottom of these problems.”





Notes for Editors


  • Between 2010 and 2021, 67 officially confirmed cases of wastage have been identified totalling over £13B of wasted taxpayer’s money.


  • Over £13B was been wasted over the last decade since 2010, including £4B of waste since 2019 while the present Defence Secretary has been in post.


  • The table below shows how much money the MoD has wasted since 2019, 2015 and 2010:


Since financial year Cases Total Wastage (£B)
2019 15 3.99
2015 34 7.68
2010 67 13.31


  • Labour’s audit of waste found that:
    • £4.8B has been wasted on cancelled contracts since 2010.
    • £5.6B has been overspent on MoD projects since 2010.
    • £71M was spent on unplanned life extensions since 2010
    • £2.6B wasted on write offs since 2010.
    • £64M has been wasted on admin errors since 2010, including £32.6M in HM Treasury fines almost uniquely imposed on the MoD for poor accountancy practices. Only one other department has been fined since 2010, a much smaller £470K fine on the Department of Health (House of Commons Written Statement 347). The pie chart below shows the contribution of each of these categories to the overall wastage figures since the start of the 2010 financial year.
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