Defense Secretary Jeremy Hunt says the UK should consider a ‘decisive’ increase in defense spending, in what some commentators say is a clear bid to become the next Tory leader.
Mr Hunt, who is widely seen as the worst ever former NHS Secretary, told the Lord Mayor’s Banquet in London that Britain faces new threats and should spend more on defense to support its allies. including the United States whose recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel sparked mass protests that resulted in the deaths of dozens of inocent Palestinian protesters.
“We simply do not know what the balance of power in the world will be in 25 years’ time”, he said.
Adding that any new spending should be used to create “new capabilities and not simply plugging gaps”.
He added: So for these and other reasons I believe it is time for the next Strategic Defence and Security Review to ask whether, over the coming decade, we should decisively increase the proportion of GDP we devote to defence.”
His call comes as new figures from the UK’s largest food bank network showed record numbers of hungry people turning to food banks, whilst a recent report warned that welfare changes will double the number of UK children living in poverty.
Trussell Trust provided 1.6 million emergency food parcels to people in need during the financial year 2018/19, a 19% increase on the previous year.
The natiowide charity says more than half of these went to children.
In the last five years, since welfare changes have begun to bite, demand has increased by a shocking 73%, with the Government’s flagship Universal Credit programme blamed as the main driver of hunger and poverty.
The Trussell Trust’s chief executive Emma Revie said: “What we are seeing year-upon-year is more and more people struggling to eat because they simply cannot afford food. This is not right.
“Enough is enough. We know this situation can be fixed – that’s why we’re campaigning to create a future where no one needs a food bank. Our benefits system is supposed to protect us all from being swept into poverty. Universal Credit should be part of the solution but currently the five week wait is leaving many without enough money to cover the basics.
“As a priority, we’re urging the government to end the wait for Universal Credit to ease the pressure on thousands of households.
“Ultimately, it’s unacceptable that anyone should have to use a food bank in the first place. No charity can replace the dignity of having financial security.
“That’s why in the long-term, we’re urging the Government to ensure benefit payments reflect the true cost of living and work is secure, paying the real Living Wage, to help ensure we are all anchored from poverty.”
A recent report from Policy in Practice, on behalf of the Children’s Commissioner for England, warned that welfare changes will double the number of children living in poverty.
The report says the impact of welfare cuts and changes introduced since 2012 should not be seen independently, warning that the cumulative impact on low-income households “is considerably greater than the impact of each reform in isolation”.
Deven Ghelani, founder of Policy in Practice, said: “The government needs to make this information more accessible, so it can be used to help those that most need it.”
Adam Corlett, senior economic analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “These cuts are the culmination of a significant retrenchment of support with children.
“The result is more children living in poverty. Absolute child poverty rose last year, and we expect relative child poverty to rise in the years ahead.”
Jeremy Hunt’s demand for increased defense spending will undoutably anger those who have been subjected to years of cuts to welfare spending.
It would seem that prospective future Tory leaders are more concerned with waging war and taking lives than protecting some of the most vulnerable people in our society.