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BAE Systems backs Boris’s bid to get value for defence spend

Michael Bow
PA

Defence major BAE Systems backed the Government’s push to get value for money for UK taxpayers on Thursday amid suggestions Downing Street could crack down on the sector in a looming spending review.

Prime Minister Boris johnson’s key adviser Dominic Cummings has reportedly singled out BAE Systems for providing poor value for money for taxpayers.

BAE, with Babcock and Rolls-Royce, is the Ministry of Defence’s top supplier. The UK paid BAE £3.4 billion last year on projects like the F-35 Lightning II.

A periodic review into defence budgets, known as the Strategic Defence and Security Review, due later this year could prove the focal point for a shake-up by Downing Street.

BAE Systems chief executive Charles Woodburn did not address the Cummings reports directly but said he welcomed the spotlight on the defence sector.

“We completely agree with the government that they should be focused on providing value, as we are,” he said. “The real priority we’ve been pushing is competitiveness across the business and in so doing providing the best value for money for UK taxpayers.

“The government is focused a lot now on global Britain. We are a company with a very strong export history… with a lot of countries that the government is looking to strengthen its relations with.”

BAE delivered solid results for the year ending 2019, with sales rising 9% past £20 billion.

It pledged to plough £1 billion into its pension scheme. BAE is likely to raise the money on the bond markets in the US. The scheme has a deficit of £1.9 billion.