Chancellor Rishi Sunak has asked the UK Office for Budget Responsibility to close its pre-policy measure forecast at the end of September.
“Our pre-policy measures forecast was closed earlier than usual in response to a request from the Chancellor for more time to complete the Spending Review as well as the Budget (as was the case at the previous multi-year Spending Review in November 2015),” said the fiscal watchdog in a statement.
“Specifically, the economy forecast was closed to any non-policy related news on 24 September and the fiscal forecast on 1 October.”
As reported by the Financial Times, the Chanchellor’s move was made to avoid last-minute requests for further public spending by government departments.
The Chancellor is hoping to verify an improvement in the size of the economy and report it during his 2022 autumn Budget, allowing for pre-election tax cuts.
If the forecast data presented by the watchdog had included another week, it would have shown an improvement in the UK economy, added the Financial Times. The country’s economy has shrank its gap from 2.4 per cent to 1.5 per cent compared with pre-pandemic levels.
Sunak’s decision came the day after he made comments on the government’s potential rescuing of struggling businesses that face soaring energy prices.
Talking to Sky News, Sunak said it’s “not the government’s job to come in and start managing the price of every individual product.”
The Chancellor’s comments could mean that businesses will not benefit from a loan scheme, which was supposed to be announced later this week.