The huge bill has been angrily attacked as “ludicrous” and “eye-watering” by Scottish politicians, who point out that the money could be used instead to build dozens of schools or hospitals. But the MoD insisted it represented “best possible value” for taxpayers.
The UK defence minister, Philip Dunne, told MPs that a total of £13 billion had been earmarked over the next decade for “maintaining the Trident strategic weapons system including costs associated with the nuclear warhead.” That amounts to 18 per cent of the MoD's entire £72 billion equipment support programme.
According to the Scottish National Party (SNP), about £1 billion of the £13 billion is due to come from taxpayers in Scotland if they remain part of the UK. That money could be used instead to build 125 new primary schools, or 20 new community hospitals, it says (see table below).
A further £1.6 billion of the defence equipment budget had been allocated for “nuclear propulsion”, Dunne said. This will include the costs of running the reactors that power the four Vanguard-class submarines that carry Trident missiles, as well as those that drive conventionally armed Astute submarines.