• Treasury Committee reviews Office for Budget Responsibility
  • The Times reported in Sept. that Treasury influenced forecasts

The U.K. Office for Budget Responsibility must make clear that its work stands free from political interference, the Treasury Committee said on Monday in a review of the body tasked with providing independent analysis of Britain’s public finances.

The review follows reports from The Times newspaper in September that Treasury officials tried to influence the OBR’s economic and fiscal outlook.

The OBR -- which was established by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne in 2010 to end political influence over government forecasting -- must update its mandate to make clear its "work is for fact-checking and quality assurance purposes only," Treasury Select Committee Chairman Andrew Tyrie said. "Any requests or comments which could be construed as going beyond this should be brought to the attention of the chairman immediately."

The OBR initially resisted providing the committee with information to assess whether political interference had been attempted, Tyrie said, which was a "mistake" since "the transparency brought to this by Parliament is the best safeguard of the OBR’s independence," he said.

"Little or no damage appears to have been done in this case, but this shouldn’t be repeated," Tyrie said.

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