Treasury begins hunt for new OBR boss

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Chancellor Sajid Javid has kicked off the hunt to replace long-standing Office for Budget Responsibility chairman Robert Chote when his term at the fiscal watchdog comes to an end in October.

Mr Chote has headed up the independent economic forecaster since it was launched in 2010, having served the maximum two five-year terms.

The Chancellor said Mr Chote has led the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) with “intelligence, independence and integrity”.

Chancellor Sajid Javid said the OBR is a ‘world class leader in fiscal transparency’ (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

“I look forward to working with Robert Chote to deliver my Budget on March 11 before he finishes his second term as chair.”

The Treasury said the recruitment process will look at the “broadest possible pool of applicants” and is open to applications until February 20.

It is set to make an appointment in early spring.

The role – which is supported by a 37-strong team at the OBR – comes with a £158,762 annual salary and can be taken on a full-time or part-time basis.

According to the job advert, candidates “must command broad respect for their objectivity in dealing with issues of political sensitivity”, and have “outstanding communication skills and integrity”.

But the relationship between the OBR and the Treasury has not always been smooth, with the watchdog earlier this year ordered to cancel its updated outlook on the public finances.

The Government’s move to scrap the Budget on November 6 ahead of the snap General Election meant the OBR was not able to provide a full economic and fiscal outlook.

It had planned instead to publish an updated view of public finances due to major changes since March to the way student loans and pension schemes are accounted for in the figures.

But it was forced to scrap these plans as the Government deemed it would break election rules, prompting accusations of political interference.

The move has also put the OBR at risk of breaking its legal commitment to publish two forecasts each financial year, given that it is yet to produce even one so far in 2019-20.

With the next forecasts due alongside the Budget on March 11, it has little time either side to produce a second set.

A Treasury spokesman said they were “still working with the OBR and other governmental departments” to find a solution.

Mr Chote said on presenting the annual welfare trends and forecast evaluation reports last month, the OBR and Treasury were considering “whether there could be a legislative solution to this legislative problem or whether there is a way we could tick the legal box without wasting your and a lot of other people’s time”.

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