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Is the OBR truly independent?

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) is again in the news today after outgoing chairman Sir Alan Budd confirmed that the running costs for the OBR will be in the region of £1.5 million a year and the office will still use UK Treasury forecast data and around 100 Treasury staff. The very fact that this close relationship with the Treasury is to continue in the future is a major bone of contention amongst many experts in the UK. To be truly independent does the OBR not require its own offices and its own permanent staff?

The subject of the independence of the OBR is a problem which will likely remain in the headlines for the foreseeable future. The very fact that Sir Alan Budd has already given notice on his term in office does dilute the impact of his recommendations and his views. However, the office has only been in existence for a few months now and already there have been accusations of impartiality with data "rushed into the public domain" in order to back up government views.

Whether the future makeup of the OBR changes dramatically in the medium to longer term remains to be seen but attempting to maintain independence from the UK government will be a very tricky challenge indeed.

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