UK war spending (21 March 2007)


    Analysts called for Gordon Brown to come clean over the rising costs of the Iraq war after he announced a further 400m GBP for overseas military spending in today's Budget [1]. The increased allocation to the government's 'Special Reserve' brings the total set aside to cover the UK's 'international obligations', including Iraq, to 7.44bn GBP. This is more than double the 3bn allocated to the fund when it was established in 2002 to cover "the full costs of the UK's military obligations" in Iraq [2].

    Today's budget increase follows recent complaints from the Defence Select Committee that the MOD had no reason not to provide cost forecasts and called on the government to explain "why it expects the costs of operations in Iraq to be greater this year than last."[3] The Treasury has repeatedly failed to release to the public a breakdown of allocations of the Special Reserve, although figures obtained through Freedom of Information by the Iraq Analysis Group, a UK-based research organisation, suggest that most of the extra money will be spent on keeping UK forces operational within Iraq.[4]

    Liam Wren-Lewis, a researcher for the Iraq Analysis Group, said: "Four years into the occupation of Iraq, we still know astonishingly little about how much it has cost the UK, and almost nothing about how much the government expects it will cost in future years."

    "We do know that, at a minimum, Gordon Brown's original 3 billion war chest has more than doubled. But in contrast to the United States, the UK MOD isn't required to publicly report its Iraq spending in any detail, so it's extremely difficult to tell how this money has actually been spent."

    The MOD now estimates that the cost of operations in Iraq between 2002 and 2006 are 5.17bn GBP, with costs of roughly 1bn GBP a year. There are no projections for future costs, nor indications as to how Iraq operations are impacting on the rest of the MoD budget. This lack of information about both present spending and future costs contrasts starkly with the US.[5]

    For information or interview, please contact Liam Wren-Lewis (Iraq Analysis Group) on +44 (0)7866 758801.

    • A full briefing on the cost of the Iraq war can be found at

    • For more information about Iraq Analysis Group


    [1] Budget Report 2007: Chapter 6

    [2] Budget Report 2003: Chapter 6

    [3] Costs of Peacekeeping in Iraq and Afghanistan: Spring Supplementary Estimate

    [4] "The Rising Cost of the Iraq War"

    [5] See for example the Congressional Budget Office's 'Cost Analyses of Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan'