Belfast Telegraph

UK could slide into double-dip recession

By James Tapsfield

The outgoing head of the government's tax and spending watchdog has said he is “not confident” the UK will escape a double-dip recession.

But Sir Alan Budd, who left the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) last week, said the “most likely outcome” was that the economy would stay in positive territory.

He also defended the new body against allegations of political interference, saying ministers had no influence over its forecasts.

Interviewed on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Sir Alan was asked whether he believed Britain would avoid slipping into negative growth again.

“I'm not confident of it,” he said. “Our fan charts show that it is a possibility, just as much stronger growth is a possibility.

“It's not the most likely outcome. The most likely outcome is that the economy will continue to grow, but you cannot rule it out.”

Officials from the watchdog previously indicated that the coalition's emergency Budget had increased the chance of a double-dip recession.

Sir Alan mounted a strong |defence of the OBR, praising Chancellor George Osborne's “remarkable” decision to give up control over economic forecasts.

The body's independence was called into question this summer when it rushed out figures contradicting a report in the Guardian that the government's first financial package would cost 1.3m jobs.

Sir Alan said he regretted any damage to the OBR's reputation but denied there had been any political motive.

Belfast Telegraph