Cutbacks for everyone, apart from the Office for Budget Responsibility

The overseer of Whitehall budgets hikes its outgoings by 20 per cent

Whitehall Editor

It was established with great fanfare by George Osborne to guarantee the financial probity of Government and ensure, as he put, it that no politician would ever be able to “fiddle the books” again.

But four years on it appears that the independent Office for Budget Responsibility has had to do a little creative accounting of its own.

Figures slipped out in the annex to a Treasury report yesterday reveal that the OBR may have had trouble sticking to the austerity budgets that have been imposed elsewhere across Whitehall.

While other government departments have had to shrink their spending by more than a quarter, the OBR has managed to increase its outgoings by a whopping 20 per cent.

The figures are contained in a letter from the Permanent Secretary at the Treasury, Nick Macpherson, to the head of the OBR, sent earlier this month.

It states that over the next four years the OBR’s budget will rise from just over £2m a year to just under £2.2m in 2017. But a look back at the original financial projections of how much the OBR would cost in 2011 reveals that it was expected to be a rather leaner institution. Then, in a similar letter, Mr Macpherson told the OBR that its annual budget would be just £1.75m – and would not rise at all for the first four years of it existence.

While not huge sums in real terms the difference between the figures mean that the OBR’s total budget will have risen by 19 per cent by the end of this year.

In contrast unprotected departments within government have been expected to do “more with less” and make real-term savings of up to 25 per cent over this Parliament.

Mr Osborne has said he expects these cuts to continue after the next election. However Mr Macpherson’s letter makes clear that this will not apply to the OBR, which will instead see its money increase by about 6 per cent.

In a statement the OBR said the extra money would allow it to increase it staffing levels from 17 to 19 civil servants and create a new three-person team dedicated to the analysis and forecasting of welfare spending and the scrutiny of welfare policy measures.

It admitted that this was “always an important part of its work” but said it would “become even more so as the Government has asked us to produce an annual report on welfare trends and to police its newly created cap on welfare”.

The extra resources would also allow it to fulfil a new role in forecasting the receipts from taxes due to be devolved to the Welsh Assembly.

Robert Chote, the OBR’s chairman, said: “I have always insisted that a transparent multi-year budget is an important safeguard for our independence, and a bulwark against political interference.”

Labour was strangely reticent last night to pass judgement on the increased costs. It wants the OBR to provide an independent analysis of its own manifesto in time for the election. It will also have to provide its own budgets for scrutiny should it win power.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own