British Army's Financial Value Examined For First Time

A report looks at the Army's contribution to the economy and employment, and how its ceremonial duties project British heritage globally.

A new report has attempted to put a monetary value on the Army's role in British life.

It is the first time a study has estimated the "economic footprint" of the service, which is one of the UK's largest public sector employers.

Job creation and support for the defence industry were both factored in to the Oxford Economics report, named 'The Wider Value of the British Army'.

A broad approach also looked at the value of the Army during times of crisis, through humanitarian aid, training with other countries, and ceremonial duties.

The report estimated that, with an annual budget of £11bn, the Army's economic footprint in 2019 supported 271,000 people and £15bn in Gross Domestic Product.

It acknowledged the challenge in attaching a monetary value to some of the Army's most significant tasks, such as deployment abroad to prevent threats from materialising at home.

Of the £15bn, the study found that around £5.5bn was through direct contribution to the UK, while the rest was largely made up of procurement expenditure and the spending of its employees.

Supply chains and worker spending mean that, for every job the Army supports, a further 1.3 jobs are supported elsewhere.

Training delivered by the service each year is estimated by the study to be £550m and, for every £1 the Army contributes to the UK, a further £1.70 is supported through multiplier effects.

British Army soldiers in US-led exercise biggest deployment of multinational troops 20210417 CREDIT MOD
British soldiers during training on a US-led exercise (Picture: MOD).

As for wider value, it found the Army recruits a disproportionately large number from parts of the country where there are lower wages.

Brigadier John Clark, Head of Army Strategy, told the BFBS Sitrep podcast the report "goes beyond" attempts to assess the value of the Army, likening investment in the service to an "insurance policy".

"When politicians want to work out whether the money they're spending is value for money, then this sort of information is very helpful," he said.

"Nobody wants to pay more for their insurance policy than they have to. But it's clear that, when you invest in your insurance policy, you understand that you get other dividends back from it – in addition to how it helps you in times of trouble."

Referencing the Army's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Brig Clark explained how the service is "always very popular" during "moments of crisis", but that the report demonstrates a deeper contribution to society.

Assessing the British Army's role in the UK's global standing, the report also acknowledged that its ceremonial duties project British heritage to a worldwide audience.

Meanwhile, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, the Army officer training facility in Berkshire, develops international relations with partners by training foreign personnel, the report added.

To listen to the latest episode of BFBS Sitrep, click below.