South West tops UK league of job numbers supporting country’s defence industry

Ministry of Defence

The South West continues to lead in defence employment, according to government figures on defence spending released today. Despite a decrease in MOD expenditure in the South West, the region saw an increase of nearly 500 jobs supported from 2017/18 to 2018/19. It continues to support more jobs than any other region with MOD expenditure supporting 1 in every 60 jobs.

The MOD published its official statistics for 2018/19 regional expenditure with UK industry, commerce and employment, putting the total MOD expenditure at £19.2 billion. The South West is a notable defence hub with helicopter manufacturing in Yeovil and Rolls Royce engine manufacturing in Bristol, each with a big supply chain of companies from across the region.

The 2018/19 expenditure supported an additional 3000 jobs nationally compared to the previous year, which means roughly 1 in every 220 people are working in full-time roles to support defence. Through both expenditure with UK industry and direct employment, the MOD supported over 322,000 jobs, with 306,000 based in the UK.

The West Midlands observed the largest drop in jobs supported from 2017/18 having fallen by 14 per cent. A decrease of 950 jobs in education and training related jobs came after expenditure in this area had reduced from £54 million in 2017/18 to £5 million in 2018/19.

An average of £290 is being spent on defence for each person living in the UK. This figure has stayed consistent over the past three years after adjusting for inflation. Wales saw an 11 per cent rise in overall expenditure, the highest of all areas.

Due to a high proportion of the MOD’s biggest suppliers being based in the South East and South West of England the Office of National Statistics says it is not surprising that these are the dominant recipient regions of MOD expenditure. In 2018/19 they accounted for 51% of total expenditure. The largest single in-year contract payment in 2018/19 was in the South West with Hertfordshire-based MBDA at £453 million for a through life enabling contract for complex weapons