Chote to lead UK spending watchdog

ROBERT CHOTE, director of top think-tank the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), will succeed Sir Alan Budd at the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) as chairman of the independent economic forecaster established in May.

Chote, who has headed up the respected think-tank for eight years and been an active critic of both the Labour and Coalition governments, was yesterday announced as Budd’s successor by chancellor George Osborne, who described Chote as “one of the most credible independent voices on the public finances”.

However, his appointment remains subject to approval by the Treasury Select Committee, which will grill him at a hearing to be held in the coming weeks. The committee reserves a right to veto Osborne’s decision.

Chote, who was widely tipped as favourite to head up the OBR, said he was delighted to have been nominated. “I will ensure that the OBR draws on the fullest possible range of information and expertise, from within government and without, and that we will make and present our judgements without fear or favour,” he said, evoking the motto of his former employer, the Financial Times (FT).

Last month, the IFS challenged the progressiveness of the Coalition’s emergency Budget in a move that some thought would scupper Chote’s chances of being appointed head of the OBR.

Should Chote be approved by the Treasury Select Committee, he will stand down from his role at the IFS on 1 October. Deputy director Carl Emmerson will serve as acting director until a permanent replacement is appointed, the IFS said yesterday. It is not yet clear whether the IFS will seek to appoint an internal candidate or look further afield.

Before working for the IFS, Chote was an adviser to the senior management of the IMF and a journalist for the FT and The Independent.