So the Institute for Fiscal Studies did a distribution analysis of the Budget and worked out that its impact was disproportionately on the poor. Not only do you lose more, the poorer you are, but the more children you have, the worse it gets. So much for the guff about “families”. Then Nick Clegg, for it is he, responds with an editorial in the Financial Times, among other things, accusing the IFS of partiality.
Now, it may be recalled that the spiffy new Office for Thingy Whatsname - sorry, Office for Budget Responsibility - is in need of a new director after Sir Alan Budd made the mistake of thinking they really wanted an independent assessment of fiscal forecasts. The choice has fallen on…Robert Chote, the director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Well, well. Stable and principled indeed.
On the way out of the door, by the way, Alan Budd has suggested that the independence of Thingy Whatsname might be fortified by its having its own office, and perhaps even a petty cash box and a coffee maker. I paraphrase.
Sir Alan has suggested that the three-strong committee be located in a separate building from the Treasury, with support from a further 15 to 20 permanent staff and assistance from Treasury staff in the busy periods leading up to a forecast.
The Daily Telegraph is Very Serious Indeed about the whole affair.
So how’s that budget doing, anyway? Well, the IMF caused a certain flutter by forecasting that the net debt/GDP ratio would peak at 90% in 2013-4. As you know, Bob, this was the level Alistair Darling’s Treasury forecast in April, before either his own budget, several downward revisions, the “emergency” £6bn cut, or the “double emergency” budget. Officially, this represents national bankruptcy, while 70% would put us all in ponyville. The paradox is explained simply, in fact - the IMF forecast is the same one from April.
Duncan Weldon has a useful table setting out the differences between the budgetary plans, and also a hypothetical plan dividing the adjustment equally between cuts and tax rises. That, after all, was the policy Ken Clarke adopted in the 1990s; we could perhaps call it the Ken Clarke Memorial Fund.
Elsewhere, Rome is burning…