SNP calls on Ministry of Defence to tackle '˜outrageous' waste

The Ministry of Defence squandered £3.3 million on lost gas canisters, £45,000 on rent arrears and £160,000 in rent for demolished houses in the last nine months of 2017, new figures have shown.

Colin Beattie MSP. Picture: Scott Louden

The SNP yesterday called on the Whitehall department to stop “frittering away” taxpayers’ money following a Freedom of Information request into so-called “fruitless payments” – a category of public spending where money is spent but nothing of use is received in return.

According to the figures, almost £5m was wasted in the nine months up to December last year, including more than £363,000 on disposing of expired ration packs.

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Colin Beattie, an SNP MSP on Holyrood’s public audit committee, said: “While families are being hammered by Tory austerity, Brexit is jacking up household bills and people are being told to tighten their belts. It’s outrageous to see this level of waste.

“Over just nine months the MoD managed to fritter away millions in taxpayers’ cash on rent for demolished houses, late payment fees, out of date rations and even £3m in gas canisters which vanished into thin air. It shows a pattern of careless, reckless mismanagement when it comes to public money.

“The SNP previously revealed some £600m in Whitehall waste over the last decade, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg – some departments have point-blank refused to fess up to how much they’ve squandered.

“While governments and businesses alike will occasionally make mistakes, these figures reveal a much deeper problem. They’re just the latest evidence, were it needed, of a systemic culture of waste by a Tory-led government. It represents an absolute scandal in the UK’s public finances.”

An MoD spokesperson said: “Most of these payments are made to other government departments so there is no overall loss to the taxpayer. We have saved billions in efficiencies over recent years as we strive to secure value-for-money for the taxpayer. Our procedures have now been reviewed and improved in these cases to prevent similar losses re-occurring.”