Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) leader Sir Alan Budd has officially moved on after his official last day on Friday. Yet, he still is talking about his tenure in the job and speaking of regrets. He stated that he deeply regrets the fuss that occurred over the job loss forecast.
He felt the OBR’s reputation of impartiality to the government’s views had been compromised due to the OBR’s releasing rushed out and more favorable jobless forecasts hours before the Prime Minister’s weekly questioning in late June;. In an interview with BBC Budd said: “I enormously regret the effect it had on our reputation. That was in some sense the most harmful event in terms of the press coverage.”
During the interview he once again stressed that he had always intended to head the OBR for three months and that he did not leave in relation to any dissatisfaction with his ability to run the new office as he wished. The OBR was one of Chancellor George Osborne’s first works. Osborne meant for the OBR to work independently of government and to produce unbiased forecasts.
Budd said of the OBR’s rushed report that it was in reaction to his viewing a leaked Treasury report in the Guardian that contained errors. He felt the right thing to do was to release correct information, thus the newly released and rushed report.
“My role in all this is that I saw the Guardian – unusually – and noticed that it had this leaked document. I found out that this was a leaked Treasury document. It included highly misleading figures. So what I thought was the right thing to do, with my colleagues, was to produce a paper that we were going to release the following day which had the correct numbers, so that the correct numbers should be on the public record for a full discussion,” explained Budd.
“I was accused of naivety, but it certainly is not our job to help the prime minister. I have also commented that the prime minister’s use of the numbers was not correct. He used the numbers in a way that wasn’t justified.”
When commenting on the state of the current economy, he said that a double dip recession was not out of the question. “Our fan charts show that it is a possibility, just as much stronger growth is a possibility. The most likely outcome is that the economy will continue to grow, but one can’t rule anything out,” he said.