OBR ‘scrutiny’ valued say Truss and Kwarteng as forecast publication date given

The unusual meeting between Liz Truss, Kwasi Kwarteng and the OBR came amid market turmoil following last week’s mini-budget.

30 September 2022

The Government will “work closely” with the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) in the coming weeks after a key meeting between the Prime Minister, Chancellor and officials from the independent spending watchdog.

The unusual meeting between Liz Truss, Kwasi Kwarteng and the OBR, which appeared to last under 50 minutes, came amid market turmoil following last week’s mini-budget.

A Treasury read-out following the meeting said a highly-anticipated OBR forecast will be published on November 23, when the Chancellor is due to reveal his medium-term fiscal plan.

The confirmation suggests the Government plans to ignore calls from some Tory MPs to bring forward the OBR forecast’s publication in a bid to reassure markets.

Richard Hughes, Andy King and Professor David Miles CBE – all members of the OBR’s budget responsibility committee – arrived for the meeting at 11 Downing Street at 9.45am on Friday.

“They discussed the process for the upcoming economic and fiscal forecast, which will be published on November 23, and the economic and fiscal outlook,” according to the Treasury statement.

“They agreed, as is usual, to work closely together throughout the forecast process and beyond.

“The Prime Minister and Chancellor reaffirmed their commitment to the independent OBR and made clear that they value its scrutiny.”

In a statement published shortly after the meeting, the OBR said it will deliver an initial forecast – which “will, as always, be based on our independent judgment about economic and fiscal prospects and the impact of the Government’s policies” – to the Chancellor on October 7.

It said it will set out the full timetable up to November 23 next week.

Treasury and Downing Street sources earlier hit back at suggestions it was an emergency meeting, even as Tory MPs called for the Chancellor’s promised plan to be brought forward to further calm jittery markets.

Treasury minister Andrew Griffith had played down the significance of the meeting, telling Sky News: “It seems to me a very good idea that the Prime Minister and Chancellor are sitting down with the independent OBR. Just like the independent Bank of England, they have got a really important role to play.

“We all want the forecasts to be as quick as they can, but also as a former finance director I also know you want them to have the right level of detail.”

The decision to hold a meeting was welcomed by Conservative MPs and senior party figures, including former chancellor George Osborne, who oversaw the creation of the independent spending watchdog in 2010.

Calling the decision to hold a meeting a “welcome move”, he said: “Turns out the credibility of the institution we created 12 years ago to bring honesty to the public finances is more enduring than that of its critics.”

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