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11.09.15

National security at risk under potential Home Office & FCO budget cuts – RUSI

The implications for natural security could be “considerable” if the planned cuts to departments responsible for tackling illegal migration, organised crime and supporting UK diplomacy take place, according to Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).

According to the think tank, steep reductions in spending would undermine the credibility and coherence of the upcoming Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), as well as cast doubts on Whitehall’s commitment to a “genuinely ‘whole-of-government’ approach tackle security challenges”.

A RUSI report claimed that the government has not showed commitment to applying “budgetary protection” to security-related departments such as the Home Office and Foreign Office.

These departments have instead been asked to work around potential cuts of 25% or 40% to their recurrent budgets over the next four years – in addition to the Summer Budget cuts of 20% to the Foreign Office and 30% to the Home Office.

The report added that if cuts as steep as those made since 2010 by the Border and Immigration Directorates were repeated in the Spending Review, there would be “significant adverse consequences” in the ability of agencies to control national security problems – particularly created by illegal immigration and refugee flows.

Additionally it estimated that another £400m would be needed to provide “real terms” protection to agencies with lead roles in combating crime and managing migration.

Malcolm Chambers, research director at RUSI, said: “This might well be possible given that the chancellor has some room left for relaxation in the pace of departmental spending reductions, while still keeping to his objective of generating a substantial budget surplus by 2019-20.

“Such protection would not be a magic bullet. But, alongside the much larger investment now being promised for defence, development and counter-terrorism, it would go a long way to finance the three ‘missing links’ in security provision that could otherwise emerge as a result of the Spending Review.”

The next SDSR is due to be published within days of the 25 November Spending Review, reflecting the “close relationship” between these two processes.

Despite budget cuts to security-related departments that fall within the SDSR, Chambers noted that the UK remains the only country that meets both the NATO and UN spending targets in defence and development. 

(Top image c. George Olcott, Flickr)

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