Nuclear minister admits new £200m investment ‘should have been done years ago’

The prime minister is set to announce a £200 million investment into the nuclear industry, saying the UK’s “continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent is more vital than ever”.

Rishi Sunak will introduce a new fund backed by £20 million a year in public money for the next decade to support growth in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, where four new Deadnaught-class submarines are being built.

The initial £20 million of public money will be followed by another £180 million over the next decade to help create 40,000 new jobs by 2030.

The prime minister said: “In a more dangerous and contested world, the UK’s continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent is more vital than ever. And nuclear delivers cheaper, cleaner home-grown energy for consumers.”

The move comes amid concerns about the UK’s level of defence spending.

In recent weeks, two serving ministers have urged Sunak to increase defence spending to at least 2.5 per cent of GDP in the face of escalating Russian aggression and concerns about stability in the Middle East.

‘Is 2% enough?’: Two senior ministers break cover to call for defence spending hike

Speaking this morning, nuclear minister Andrew Bowie said the £200 million boost “should have been done years ago” adding the government was now “running to catch up”, despite being in power for over a decade.

He told Times Radio: “I make no bones about it, we should have done this years ago. We are running to catch up.

Bowie added: “But we have just this year delivered our civil nuclear road map, we have announced our intention to build a third gigawatt project, we are investing £350 million in new nuclear power to ease Vladimir Putin out of the nuclear fuels market, we are actually committed to delivering small modular reactors through our competition which will conclude this year.

“But of course this should have been done years ago, which is why we are having to take the action in the way that we are right now.” is the UK’s leading digital-only political website, providing comprehensive coverage of UK politics. Subscribe to our daily newsletter here.