Q: So why is the Chancellor’s ‘Autumn statement’ made in December?
A: Because they keep messing around with dates and names. Kenneth Clarke had his ‘Summer statement’ in October, Gordon Brown his ‘Pre-budget report’ in November and now George Osborne makes his ‘Autumn statement’ in December.
Q: So WHY does he make it?
A: Since 1975 the Chancellor has been obliged by law to deliver two economic forecasts to Parliament each year – his Budget statement in the Spring and his Autumn statement whenever.
Q: So how is the Budget statement different to the Autumn statement?
A: The Spring Budget deals mainly with taxes whilst the Autumn statement deals with how the money is spent, which is logical. And he makes his Budget speech in March just before the start of the new fiscal year so no-one has time to implement cunning plans and avoid new taxes. The Autumn statement is more of a ‘Budget-lite’ – an update on how the taxes are being spent, with only a few policy announcements. Apart that is from the run-up to the general election when the Chancellor hopes to win support for his Government.
Q: Are there any other differences?
A: Well, the Chancellor is the only person allowed to drink alcohol in the House of Commons chamber, and then only during his Budget speech. If he or any other MP’s are caught boozing in the Chamber at any other time then they’re sent to the Tower of London. They have their own brand of whisky you know, but it’s not very nice.
Q: So all the MP’s are sober enough to understand the Chancellors figures?
A: Sometimes, unless they’ve been in one of the House of Commons’ eight bars beforehand. But don’t worry about the figures – they’ve been checked for accuracy by the independent ‘Office for Budget Responsibility’ established in 2010.
Q: So there’s no possibility the Chancellor could pull a fast one then?
A: Oh come on – this is the OBR, not Tesco’s auditors.
A: The Autumn figures are seasonally-adjusted.