Labour calls on fiscal watchdog to grill politicians over spending

Kate McCann
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LABOUR shadow chancellor Ed Balls is calling on the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) to test each spending commitment made by the main political parties in their manifestos in the run up to the general election.

In an article today, Balls will make the case for tougher measures to ensure politicians’ promises are as good as they look on paper, with the fiscal watchdog taking on the role of chief auditor.

But it looks like Labour’s call for greater transparency may have come too late, as Robert Chote, chairman of the OBR, said that the legal change needed to allow the spending review should have been agreed by “the early summer”.

He added: “We would need cross-party agreement by the early summer – not just on the principle, but also on the broad rules of the game. We don’t have that agreement, so I think this is now an issue for 2020.”

The Liberal Democrats have said the proposal is worth looking at, while George Osborne is understood to be concerned about the financial implications of such a policy.