Audio: Treasury refuses to provide budget cost info to journalist

The Treasury press office refused to a provide a journalist figures that show how much worse off families will be as a result of the budget, according to a report today.

Finance journalist Chris Wheal, writing for AOL’s Daily Finance site, reported that The Treasury wants to delay releasing the figures for two weeks, claiming the Government department’s delay is in the hope the fuss will have blown over by then.

A graph detailed in the Red Book Budget figures appendix shows that each of ten family income groups would be worse off as a result of the Budget.

Wheal asked The Treasury for the exact numbers for an accompanying table which detailed how average families would be worse off by around £400 per year, but it would not release them yet.

He wrote:

‘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. ‘

Wheal recorded his conversation with press officer Andrea Geoghegan, who insisted she was not refusing to hand out the figures – despite not providing them.

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