Defence Secretary sets out ambitious Defence Prosperity Programme

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Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has reaffirmed his commitment to growing Defence’s contribution to UK economic growth, setting out a new package of measures to drive productivity and innovation in the sector.

In July 2018, Philip Dunne MP published a review of the economic value of Defence, highlighting the crucial role the sector plays in supporting over 260,000 jobs and contributing on average £7bn in exports each year.

The Ministry of Defence invested £18.9bn with UK industry in 2017/18, equating to £290 per resident, which supported 115,000 jobs across the country.

Ahead of today’s Prosperity Conference, bringing together leading defence industry partners in the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry, the Defence Secretary has announced:

  • £500k investment from the Defence Innovation Fund for a pilot programme with industry to further strengthen the international competitiveness and productivity of the UK defence sector.

  • A joint programme supported by Invest Northern Ireland and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to pilot a Defence Technology Exploitation Programme (DTEP) in Northern Ireland, worth an expected £1.2m in Research and Development investment.

  • A commitment to working with the Welsh Government on the potential for an Advanced Manufacturing Research Institute alongside the Defence Electronics and Components Agency (DECA) in North Wales to cement the region as a centre of excellence for innovation.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

These announcements demonstrate the progress we are making in our commitment to boost Defence’s contribution to national prosperity.

Our world-class defence sector operates at the very forefront of innovation, supporting 260,000 jobs and increasing economic growth throughout the UK.

The MOD is playing a central role in the Government’s Modern Industrial Strategy and prosperity agenda, ensuring the UK remains a world-leader in defence technology in the years to come.

Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns said:

The Ministry of Defence plays a crucial role in Wales and supports thousands of jobs across the country. It is Welsh expertise which ensures the Armed Forces are equipped with the latest technology, and DECA Sealand and companies like AerFin are proving Wales’ credentials as a global leader in aviation technology.

The UK Government is committed to ensuring this trend continues, and through the Industrial Strategy aims to invest in key industries and infrastructure in Wales to boost productivity and support businesses in creating well-paid jobs.

In recognition of the need to improve the quality of data on the UK defence sector available to decision-makers by stimulating greater academic involvement in the area, the Defence Secretary also announced:

  • The proposal to create a Joint Economic Data Hub with industry, sitting within the UK Defence Solution Centre and overseen by a new independent advisory panel, to collect and aggregate economic data from across the defence sector.

  • A commitment to sponsor an international Defence Economics Conference at Kings College London later this year, as the first of a series of events to develop understanding of the significant economic value of Defence.

Earl Howe outlined these proposals in more detail at the Defence Prosperity Conference today, before taking part in a panel event with senior industry and government officials.

The initiatives build on the Philip Dunne report commissioned by the Defence Secretary, entitled ‘Growing the Contribution of Defence to UK Prosperity’, which has been widely welcomed by Government and Industry.

Defence Minister Earl Howe addressing the Defence Prosperity Conference today.

Defence Minister Earl Howe addressing the Defence Prosperity Conference today. Manufacturing and Technology Centre Copyright.

Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP said:

I welcome today’s response by the Secretary of State to my report and the steps taken so far to drive the UK prosperity agenda forward, both within the MOD and as it engages with the defence industry on future initiatives.

I look forward to helping the MOD continue to develop the way in which it demonstrates its positive impact within the UK economy.

Paul Everitt, CEO ADS said:

Providing thousands of high-value jobs and delivering vital equipment for the UK Armed Forces, the UK defence industry is making a big contribution to our national prosperity and security.

UK industry is designing, developing and manufacturing the best in advanced defence equipment and services, and it is vital that industry and Government continue to work closely together to make sure we develop the skills and capabilities our country needs.

Andrew Cowdery, Industry Co-Chair Defence Growth Partnership said:

The DGP welcomes the Defence Secretary’s continued focus on the UK defence sector and its importance to the prosperity of the country.

By working jointly with the Government through the DGP our industry can continue to make long term investments in innovation, skills and the right capabilities.

This will allow the sector to continue to meet the requirements of our Armed forces and maximise international trade.”  

Stephen Phipson, Chief Executive, Make UK (formerly EEF) said:

Make UK are pleased to support the Defence Secretary’s drive to grow our national prosperity from defence activity.

The UK’s defence supply chain operates at the technical frontier, delivering the cutting-edge innovation that is essential to ensuring that our Armed Forces are, and remain, ahead of their competitors and adversaries.

In doing so our industry does more than just help to safeguard our national security; it makes a vital contribution to our prosperity.

Recent announcements highlighting the importance of Defence to the UK economy include:

  • A £400m contract with MBDA UK to add ultra-accurate Brimstone missile capability to RAF Typhoon jets, supporting 400 jobs in Bolton, Stevenage and across their UK supply chain.

  • Contracts worth £1bn announced in October 2018 to support the UK’s Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships and the Royal Navy’s Survey and Hydrographic fleet, supporting over 700 jobs at shipyards across the country.

  • A £500m contract from the US Department of Defense centred on the Defence Electronics and Components Agency in Sealand, North Wales, to repair state-of-the-art F-35 Lighting fighter jets, cementing the UK’s role as the Global Repair Hub for F-35 aircraft.

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