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.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
Ricky Gervais performs stand-up
people
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
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

Year 5 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd are seeking KS...

Year 6 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd are seeking KS...

Automation Test Lead (C#, Selenium, SQL, XML, Web-Services)

£50000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Automation Tes...

Business Anaylst

£60000 - £75000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: Business Anal...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering