George Osborne is fighting to retain the right to appoint the head of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) despite that questioning has increased over whether the OBR truly has independence from political pressure. The recently appointed head of Osborne’s OBR, Sir Alan Budd, has resigned the office after just a few months. Many believe his departure is due to the lack of independence he was promised.
Labour MPs David Miliband and Alistair Darling want to make sure Budd’s replacement is given the ability to truly respond to parliament without pressure. Without independence of the OBR it really has no purpose or benefit to lawmakers.
Darling commented: “Right from the start the Tories used the OBR not just as a part of the government but as part of the Conservative Party. They have succeeded in strangling what could have been a good idea at its birth.”
The OBR was formed primarily by Osborne to assure that official economic forecasts were not made to show favour or progress of the current government if figures that showed otherwise. It was developed so then economic figures were released it was a true assessment that could be trusted by the people, analysts, and the parliament.
Controversy arose when the Financial Times reported that the OBR revised its forecast to be in line with that reported in the Budget. Revised forecasts were then published quickly when the leak was revealed.
On Thursday the OBR released a statement: The OBR’s best estimate of the aggregate impact of public spending reductions on public sector jobs was set out in our Budget forecast published last week. This estimate that the level of public sector employment would fall by 490,000 by 2014-2015. As stated alongside that forecast, changes from the pre-Budget forecast reflected changes to modeling assumptions and Government policy.”