Box sets » Economic and fiscal outlook - December 2013

The performance of past OBR economic and fiscal forecasts
Each autumn, we publish our Forecast evaluation report (FER), a detailed examination of the performance of past economic and fiscal forecasts relative to the latest outturn data. This box discussed cumulative errors in our June 2010 real and nominal GDP forecasts in light of the significant revisions made by the ONS to real GDP growth between mid-2010 and mid-2012, and the implications this has had for the performance of our June 2010 public sector borrowing forecast
On 7 August 2013, the Bank of England announced that it would not consider raising Bank Rate, then at 0.5 per cent, until the unemployment rate had fallen to 7.0 per cent. However, the Bank also detailed certain conditions, which if breached, would make it consider tightening monetary policy sooner. This box, from our December 2013 Economic and fiscal outlook, examined where our forecast stood in relation to these conditions.

Economy categories: Labour market, Employment and unemployment, Inflation, Interest rates

Cross-cutting categories: Monetary policy

In each Economic and fiscal outlook we publish a box that summarises the effects of the Government’s new policy measures on our economy forecast. These include the overall effect of the package of measures and any specific effects of individual measures that we deem to be sufficiently material to have wider indirect effects on the economy. In our December 2013 Economic and Fiscal Outlook, we adjusted our inflation forecast to reflect changes in fuel duty.
Why has inflation been higher in the UK than the euro area?
From late-2008 to 2013, the rate of CPI inflation in the UK had been consistently higher than the euro area equivalent measure. This box, published in our December 2013 Economic and fiscal outlook, outlined a number of factors which had contributed to the divergence including exchange rate movements, changes in VAT and utility prices.

Economy categories: Inflation

Cross-cutting categories: International comparisons

Productivity, wages and the cost of living
In the years following the late-2000s recession, productivity growth remained subdued, which would be expected to lead to lower wages. This box showed that while the real product wage grew more strongly than productivity growth since 2008, real consumption wage growth was weaker.
Projected Asset Purchase Facility flows
In 2012-13, excess cash held in the Bank of England’s Asset Purchase Facility (APF) has been transferred to the Exchequer on an ongoing basis requiring us to forecast future flows. This box outlined the forecasted APF flows and the changes in these estimates since March.

Fiscal categories: Asset Purchase Facility, Financial transactions

Cross-cutting categories: Monetary policy

Public finances data are subject to regular classification and methodological changes. This box outlined potential classification changes ahead of the PSF review. Annex B of our March 2014 EFO explained these changes in more detail.
Tax agreements with offshore centres
In recent years, the UK has entered into tax agreements with a number of offshore centres. This box evaluated the Autumn 2012 costing for the UK-Swiss tax agreement. More information can be found in Working paper No.8: Anti-avoidance costings: an evaluation
Changes to the classification of data in OSCAR
In this forecast, we switched to using spending data from a new source, which was the Treasury’s new public spending database known as OSCAR (short for their ‘Online System for Central Accounting and Reporting’). This led to some switches between DEL and AME, which we treated as classification changes, because they affected our presentation of DEL and AME for all years, including outturn and forecasts. This box explained those changes.
Universal Credit
In Chapter 4 of our December 2013 EFO, we discussed the fiscal outlook for 2013-14 to 2017-18. In this box, we discussed the delays to the Government’s universal credit rollout plan. Compared to the March 2013 rollout plan, large increases in the universal credit caseload were assumed to start later than previously planned in 2016 and 2017. Fewer people were also expected to be on universal credit at the end of the forecast horizon, with 700,000 fewer claimants assumed to have migrated by the end of 2017-18 compared to the March 2013 rollout plan. We explained that the changes to the rollout schedule was a key source of change in the profile of our forecast relative to March 2013, with lower spending up to 2015-16.
The Government undertook a number of interventions in the financial sector in response to the financial crisis and subsequent recession of the late 2000s. This box provided an update of the estimated net effect of them on the public finances as of December 2013.

Cross-cutting categories: Financial interventions, Financial sector