Jeremy Hunt

The way Chancellors respond to economic news adds to our debt - here's why

Published on 1 March 2024

Chancellors don’t respond symmetrically to good and bad economic news. The result is higher debt.

Since 2010, when the Office for Budget Responsibility has presented the government with a windfall – i.e. improved public finance forecasts – successive Chancellors have tended to spend the majority of it, mainly by topping up their spending plans. But when public finance forecasts have got worse, Chancellors have tended to accept higher borrowing, rather than announce offsetting tax rises or spending cuts. The result was tens, if not hundreds, of billions of additional borrowing over the 2010s, and a bigger state than originally planned.