OBR denies that it made life easier for George Osborne

Ben Southwood
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BUDGET watchdog boss Robert Choate yesterday told MPs that far from tweaking processes to help the chancellor, the changes make budget targets harder to meet.

Changing its model for the output gap when it was spitting out “implausible” numbers was the right thing to do, Robert Choate, who heads the Office for Budget Responsibility, maintained at the Treasury Select Committee, against suggestions he had done so to make life easy for George Osborne.

He said that reducing its estimates of potential growth for the coming five years would outweigh the benefits of this year’s reduction in the output gap – making it harder for Osborne to meet budget targets.

He also stressed the difficulty of economic forecasting and said that since the average forecasting error for the budget was £15bn to £16bn, the prediction that the deficit would fall by £1bn was very uncertain.