Political Promise

OBR saved from the scrap

In Ju Shardlow on July 23, 2010 at 11:41 am

By Ju Shardlow

Sir Alan Budd came under fire this week

The Office for Budget Responsibility today outlined new powers to increase its independence from the Treasury.  The OBR looked under threat, but came out with a surprisingly strong reinforcement from Robert Chote of the Department of Fiscal Studies.

The Treasury select committee discussed new staffing proposals from Sir Alan Budd, such as scrapping the need for 100 new OBR staff and instead appointing instead a “hit squad” who would oversee treasury employees who can better fill the roles. This is a highly controversial move, but one that the committee was sure would heighten the quality and assuredness of the body’s output.

The changes would hold the opposition accountable for the first time, having their forecasts analyzed to stop them “promising things” they can’t follow through, according to the committee. Much emphasis was put on the need to move away from giving short-term fiscal forecasts which were lambasted heavily by TSC chair Andrew Tyrie for giving “misleading information” and being “inaccurate”.

At last a consensus was made that the OBR should instead develop the quality of their analysis. This goes a step further than just moving the OBR out of the treasury as Osborne proposed last week.

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