Tuesday, January 23, 2024

OBR Screws Up Yet Again


Remember that OBR lot, the so-called "independent" watchdogs of Whitehall's wallet? 

Well, they've gone and done it again – tripped over their own spreadsheets and missed the December borrowing figures by a whopping six billion quid.

While the OBR were busy pencilling in a hefty £14bn December deficit, the actual figure came in at a measly £7.8bn. That's, as the Americans might say, a "yuge" £6bn miss – the kind that makes you question if these fiscal soothsayers even bother to look at the books before predicting the future.

So, what went wrong? 

Well, the usual suspects. VAT receipts were higher than the OBR's estimate, income tax took a surprise bite out of paychecks, and even government spending was a tad more restrained than expected. Turns out, sometimes reality doesn't always follow the OBR's economic origami models.

Now, the interesting bit. This unexpected borrowing bonanza has Chancellor Jeremy Hunt singing a different tune. Gone are the doom-and-gloom pronouncements about austerity and belt-tightening. Now, it's all sunshine and rainbows, with whispers of tax cuts dancing on the breeze. Apparently, when the coffers are unexpectedly full, even the tightest-fisted Tory starts feeling a bit generous. Suddenly, that £20 billion giveaway he's been whispering about doesn't seem so pie in the sky.

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