We expect small businesses to take an increasing share of our increasing defence budget, as they provide a vital source of innovation and flexibility in meeting defence and security requirements. In October, we announced a new target to increase the proportion of Ministry of Defence procurement spent with SMEs to 25% by the end of this Parliament. That target is 10% higher than the one that was set during the last Parliament.
The Successor submarine programme will be one of the Department’s largest projects, and we expect about 850 suppliers across the UK to be involved. They will employ thousands of people in what is a very high-skilled domain, using cutting-edge technology. That will include the supply chain for Rolls-Royce nuclear propulsion systems based at Raynesway. Many of those companies will be SMEs, and I am sure that many of them will be from my hon. Friend’s constituency in Derby.
I pay tribute to the workforce in Lancashire, especially in view of the work that they will do in contributing to every single one of the F-35s. That is the largest defence procurement programme on the globe. Further particulars about the innovation fund will be announced in due course, and some may even be announced in the next hour.
As I have just indicated to my hon. Friend the Member for South Ribble (Seema Kennedy), the Successor submarine programme will be the largest UK procurement of military capability for decades to come. That will filter through; I have referred to the 850 suppliers that we think will be participating, but the number may be greater than that. It will be an enormous programme that will last for many years and sustain thousands of jobs across the breadth of the country.