Thursday 23 January 2020 10:50 am

Chancellor launches search for next head of budget watchdog

Chancellor Sajid Javid has launched the search for the next head of the UK’s budget watchdog, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), as the term of the current chair Robert Chote draws to an end.

The OBR was formed in 2010 by newly-elected chancellor George Osborne to ensure the government stuck to its spending and borrowing rules.

Chote became the first chair, moving from his role as director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) think tank. His ten year term comes to an end in October.

Javid said Chote had led the organisation with “intelligence, independence and integrity”. He said: “The OBR’s independence and expertise is admired not just in Britain but across the world.

“Finding the right candidate to lead the OBR and build on the significant progress of the last 10 years is vital for maintaining the credibility of the UK’s fiscal framework.”

Chote will oversee the OBR’s report into the state of the UK finances before Javid’s Budget in March, an important event to see how much leeway the chancellor has to carry out his agenda of increased spending.

The watchdog’s next chair will have to deal with a government that is taking a very different approach to spending than its predecessors. Gone is the fiscal discipline of Osborne and fellow ex-chancellor Philip Hammond, replaced by a desire to “level up” spending around the country.

Among the OBR’s jobs is producing official UK economic and fiscal forecasts, assessing the government’s performance against its own rules, and highlighting risks to the public finances. As such, the chair must be an expert in fiscal and economic analysis.

The role has been publicly advertised and will be open to applications until 20 February. The chancellor will pick the next chair, subject to the consent of parliament’s Treasury Select Committee, a group of MPs that scrutinises the Treasury’s work.