George Osborne has been accused of wasting the time of Whitehall officials and creating “real economic costs” for the country by the respected Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank.
The think tank said that the Chancellor had engaged in last-minute manipulation of departmental budgets ahead of this week’s Budget in order to save himself the embarrassment of having to report to the House of Commons that the deficit was rising, rather than falling. “There is every indication that the numbers have been carefully managed with a close eye on the headline borrowing figures for this year” said the IFS director Paul Johnson. “It is unlikely that this has led either to an economically optimal allocation of spending across years or to a particularly productive use of time by officials or ministers.”
Gemma Tetlow an IFS researcher added that the manipulation might have created “real economic costs” by diverting officials from more valuable work in delivering public services.