Public sector expenditure on defense in the United Kingdom (UK) 2000-2019

In 2019, the public sector expenditure on defense in the United Kingdom was 40.2 billion British pounds, a 1.5 billion increase from 2017/18. Compared with 2000/01 when the UK spent approximately 25.7 billion pounds, there has been a net increase of 14.5 billion pounds.

NATO and the two percent pledge
The United Kingdom is a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) a military and political alliance initiated on the principle that an attack on one member is an attack on all. Members of NATO are expected to spend at least two percent of their Gross-Domestic Product on defense, a target which the United Kingdom just missed between 2015/16 and 2017/18 when it was 1.9 percent. Prior to 2016 the United Kingdom’s defense spending was always above this target and was higher than three percent of GDP before the mid-1990s.

Global military spending
Compared with the rest of the world, the United Kingdom spent the seventh most on defense, less than the United States, China, Saudi Arabia, India, France and Russia, but slightly more than Germany. In terms of military spending as a share of GDP, the UK was behind eight other countries, especially Saudi Arabia which spent 8.8 percent of it’s GDP on defense.

Public sector expenditure on defense in the United Kingdom (UK) from 2000/01 to 2018/19

Expenditure in billion GBP
2017/18 38.7
2016/17 37.1
2015/16 36.6
2014/15 36.7
2013/14 36.4
2012/13 36.3
2011/12 38.7
2010/11 39.3
2009/10 37.7
2008/09 36.8
2007/08 33.7
2006/07 32.2
2005/06 31
2004/05 29.8
2003/04 28.8
2002/03 27
2001/02 25.4
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Release date

July 2019


United Kingdom

Survey time period

April 1, 2000 to March 31, 2019

Supplementary notes

* The source added the following information "he 2015 Spending Review continued the commitment to meet the NATO investment pledge to spend 2% of GDP on Defence for the rest of this decade. This is evaluated using the NATO definitions of Defence spending rather than the UN COFOG definitions that are used in this table. The UN COFOG and NATO measures of Defence use different definitions and are therefore not comparable. For example, the NATO Defence figures include pensions whereas in COFOG these are included in Social Protection."

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Statistics on "Government spending in the public sector in the UK"

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