George Osborne’s much-vaunted Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) was supposedly set up to guarantee the “independence and integrity” of growth and borrowing figures which, he claimed, had been subject to “fiddling” under Labour.
Revelations that the OBR is is staffed by exactly the same Treasury economists that produced data slammed by Osborne have only strengthened claims that the whole thing is a cheap gimmick. Others have poured scorn on the OBR’s independent credentials, contrasting its vague legal status with that of bodies such as the National Audit Office and Office of National Statistics, which are truly independent through their accountability to parliament rather than the executive.
With Whitehall whisperings that the OBR came under pressure to overstate the problems facing the economy, how is the coalition spinning the composition of this body? Its official website states that OBR chief Sir Alan Budd is:
“… supported by a small secretariat of economists and public finance experts redeployed from within HM Treasury”
Well it seems they didn’t feel the need to “redeploy” them very far! –
As these exclusive images show, the former section for Macroeconomic and Fiscal Policy (MFP) was magically transformed into the Office for Budget Responsibility by … sticking a piece of paper over the old sign!
So the new “independent” OBR is not only staffed by the same economists but is located in exactly the same room – all within Osborne’s department.
At least they can’t use A4 paper to conceal their cuts.