The OBR was created in 2010 to provide independent and authoritative analysis of the UK’s public finances. The Budget Responsibility and National Audit Act 2011 and the Charter for Budget Responsibility set out the legal requirements of the Office, but it has complete discretion over how to deliver its core objectives.
The OBR is led by the Chair, Richard Hughes, along with the two other members of the Budget Responsibility Committee (BRC), Professor David Miles CBE and Andy King. The Oversight Board consists of the BRC plus two non-executive members of the OBR. The latter two positions are currently held by Sir Chris Kelly, who chairs the Oversight Board, and Bronwyn Curtis OBE, who chairs the Audit Committee.
We are seeking candidates to replace Sir Christopher Kelly, whose second term ends on 20 June 2023.
Bronwyn Curtis’s term comes to an end in June 2024. In the event that more than one candidate meets the required standard and is willing to defer taking up the position until that date, we may appoint both non-executive members within this single recruitment process.
Non-executive members are nominated by the OBR and appointed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
The OBR has around 45 civil service staff, led by the Chief of Staff, Steve Farrington, and is located in 102 Petty France. It has a budget of around £4 million a year.
Introduction from the Chair
Thank you for your interest in the role of non-executive member of the Office for Budget Responsibility. The work of the OBR is an important part of the UK’s macroeconomic framework, requiring close engagement with HM Treasury and departments that undertake forecasts and analysis on our behalf. I, along with the Budget Responsibility Committee and leadership team, greatly value the contributions and perspectives of our non-executive members on managing these relationships, particularly in terms of maintaining our independence from, while also being responsive to the policy-making needs of Government and ensuring our accountability to Parliament and the public. We also rely on our Oversight Board to provide guidance on our internal decision-making processes and external engagement, both of which have come under intense scrutiny in the last 12 months.
We are actively seeking to increase the diversity of our Oversight Board and staff and therefore encourage applicants from all backgrounds, irrespective of race, age, gender, marital status, religion and sexual orientation.
Responsibilities of non-executive members
The non-executive members of the OBR play an important role in ensuring the good governance of the Office, safeguarding the independence of the OBR and ensuring that the executive members of the OBR are supported and constructively challenged.
The non-executive members have a number of responsibilities set out in the legislation establishing the OBR. These statutory duties are to:
- assess if the OBR has been able to perform its main duty with complete discretion and in line with its three principles (impartially, objectively and transparently), and report on this in the OBR’s annual report;
- review regularly that the OBR has appropriate processes in place to ensure it produces a high standard of work; and
- periodically, and at least every five years, appoint independent, expert reviewers, to conduct a review to consider the quality of all the reports produced by the OBR in that period. The next review should report in 2025.
Other roles that the non-executive members perform include:
- Forming part of the Oversight Board: providing strong and independent leadership of the OBR as part of the Oversight Board, with collective responsibility for setting the strategic direction of the OBR and ensuring it is managed efficiently and effectively.
- Providing support and constructive challenge, and safeguarding independence: providing the highest quality judgement and advice on the full range of issues covered by the Oversight Board and playing a key role in safeguarding the independence of the OBR, through the capacity to advise and report from an external perspective. This may involve being available to appear before Parliamentary committees on these matters.
- Taking a lead role in advising on matters related to audit and risk: the Oversight Board must assure itself of the effectiveness of the internal control and risk management systems of the OBR. This Audit Committee function involves both non-executive members and is led by one non-executive member.
- Chairing internal meetings of the OBR: one non-executive member has responsibility for chairing Oversight Board meetings and the other has responsibility for chairing the Audit Committee. These are inward-facing roles that involve facilitating board and audit committee meetings, formulating their strategies and setting their agendas.
About the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR)
We have five main roles:
1. Economic and fiscal forecasting
- We produce detailed five-year forecasts for the economy and public finances twice a year. The forecasts accompany the Budget Statement (usually in late November) and the Spring Statement (usually in March). They incorporate the impact of any tax and spending measures announced in those statements by the Chancellor.
- The details of the forecasts are set out in the Economic and fiscal outlook (EFO). Our annual Forecast evaluation report (FER), published each autumn, examines how they compare to subsequent outturns and draws lessons for future forecasts.
2. Evaluating performance against targets
- We use our public finance forecasts to judge the Government’s performance against its fiscal targets. In January 2022 the Government set itself a new mandate for fiscal policy: to have public sector net debt (excluding the Bank of England) as a percentage of GDP falling by the third year of the rolling forecast period. The fiscal mandate is accompanied by three supplementary targets: to balance the current budget by the third year of the rolling forecast period; to ensure that public sector net investment does not exceed 3 per cent of GDP on average over the rolling five-year forecast period; and to ensure that a subset of welfare spending is contained within a predetermined cap and margin set by the Treasury.
- In each Economic and fiscal outlook, we assess whether it has a greater than 50 per cent chance of hitting these targets under current policy. Our Welfare trends report (WTR), now published once every two years, examines the drivers of welfare spending, including both those elements inside and outside the cap.
3. Sustainability and balance sheet analysis
- We assess the long-term sustainability of the public finances: Fiscal risks and sustainability (FRS) – the successor to the Fiscal sustainability report (FSR) – periodically sets out long-term projections, typically following the release of updated population projections from the Office for National Statistics. These long-term projections cover different categories of spending, revenue and financial transactions, and we assess whether they imply a sustainable path for public sector debt.
- Both the FRS and the EFO also analyse the public sector’s balance sheet, using both conventional National Accounts measures and the Whole of Government Accounts (WGA) prepared using commercial accounting principles.
4. Evaluation of fiscal risks
- The annual Fiscal risks and sustainability publication (FRS) – which superseded our Fiscal risks report (FRR) – periodically provides a comprehensive review of risks from the economy and financial system identified in our fiscal risk register, and also includes discussions of specific fiscal risks. In addition to producing central forecasts and projections for the public finances, the EFO and the FRS discuss the risks to those forecasts and projections (both upside and downside). The WGA also provides further information on specific fiscal risks, notably contingent liabilities (such as government guarantees), which we discuss in both the EFO and the FRS.
5. Scrutinising tax and welfare policy costing
- We scrutinise the Government’s costing of individual tax and welfare spending measures at each Budget. The Government provides us with draft costings in the run-up to each statement and we subject these to detailed scrutiny and challenge.
- We then state in Annex A of each EFO and in the Treasury’s policy costings document whether we endorse the costings that the Government finally publishes as reasonable central estimates and whether we have used them in our forecasts. We also give each costing an uncertainty rating, based on the data underpinning it, the complexity of the modelling involved and the possible behavioural impact of the policy.
- These five roles all focus on the public finances at a UK-wide level. But the UK Government also asked us to forecast the receipts from those taxes and spending from social security that it has devolved – or intends to devolve – to the Scottish and Welsh governments.
Our Scottish and Welsh revenue forecasts are published alongside our EFOs and Welsh Government Budgets.
We also publish independent forecasts for the devolved taxes alongside the Welsh Government’s Budget.
In support of these activities, we undertake a variety of research projects through the year. We publish briefing material to inform people about our work, and we provide a same-day briefing on the monthly public finances statistics, to help people interpret the latest data in the light of our most recent forecasts.
Executive member: Chair - Richard Hughes
Executive member: Professor David Miles CBE
Executive member: Andy King
Non-executive member: Oversight Board Chair - Sir Christopher Kelly
Non-executive member: Audit Committee Chair - Bronwyn Curtis OBE