Sunak Commissions Forecasts in Step Toward Setting U.K. Budget

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak took a step toward preparing an autumn budget by asking the government’s fiscal watchdog to prepare economic forecasts.

Sunak on Friday told the House of Commons in a written statement that he’d asked the Office for Budget Responsibility to “prepare an economic and fiscal forecast to be published in mid to late November.”

The OBR forecasts are a pre-requisite for announcing a budget, which Sunak has already said he plans for the fall. He’s obliged to give the OBR at least 10 weeks’ notice. Typically, budgets are held on Wednesday, making Nov. 25 the earliest likely day.

A person familiar with the matter said no decision has yet been taken on when the budget will take place, but the Treasury is still working toward holding one in the autumn.

Even so, production of the forecasts is not a guarantee that a budget will take place, because the OBR is required to produce them twice a year. Britain is facing a highly unpredictable economic outlook and Sunak is under pressure not to put up taxes from fellow Conservatives, who fear the recovery could be stifled.

The chancellor delivered his first budget in March, just as the early impacts of the coronavirus pandemic were beginning to be felt in the U.K.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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