Treasury tries to kill Budget cost story

Updated: 
Budget graph showing families worse off in every categoryChancellor George Osborne's Treasury press office has refused to provide the figures that show exactly how much worse off families across the UK are because of his budget on Wednesday. The Treasury wants to delay releasing the figures for two weeks in the hope the fuss will have blown over.

Red Book

The Treasury produces an appendix to its budget figures in the Red Book, detailing the impact of all its measures on the population. One table divided families across the UK into ten different income bands. It showed that in each of the ten bands families were worse off.

In addition to the ten income bands, the table provided an average household figure. It looks as if the average family is about £400 worse off. But the table did not have the exact numbers.

The figures include direct tax (income tax, for example), indirect taxes (such as VAT and fuel duty), and benefits (such as child benefit). It shows that in nine of the ten income brackets benefits increased but the tax rises in both categories make people worse off.

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Red handed

We asked the Treasury for the exact figures. The Treasury says it does have those figures to hand. But it will not give them out. It wants, instead, to wait two weeks to publish them online. It said it would not make any announcement when the figures are put on its website.

Let's be clear on this: The Treasury knows it must release the figures under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act. But it knows that a FOI request allows it 20 working days to respond, so it is delaying by less than that. It is using a freedom of information loophole to delay giving taxpayers information it could - and should - publish instantly.

It is a conspiracy to delay releasing the figures until people have lost interest in the budget. These are figures produced for the public at taxpayers' expense. Taxpayers have a right to see them now. The civil service is supposed to be neutral and serve the country not be party political. It is a disgrace.

Red faces

Listen to the press officer, Andrea Geoghegan, insist that while refusing to give out the figures she is not refusing. What is the government trying to hide?

Listen!

The real impact of the Budget

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