We always try to forecast the public finances consistent with how the ONS will measure them once it has implemented its classification decisions, so that our forecasts will be consistent with that eventual treatment. This box outlined the items included in our November 2015 forecast which the ONS had announced, but had yet to implement.

We always try to forecast the public finances consistent with how the ONS will measure them once it has implemented its classification decisions, so that our forecasts will be consistent with that eventual treatment. Our forecasts therefore include various items that anticipate future revisions or classification changes that the ONS has announced, but is yet to implement.

In this forecast, as well as the effect of the reclassification of housing associations, we include the following items that are not yet in the ONS outturn data:

  • some environmental levies, including feed-in tariffs (a subsidy for renewable and low-carbon energy generation) and the warm homes discount (an electricity bill discount scheme). Including these items is neutral for borrowing, as they are classified as imputed tax and spending and therefore add equal amounts to both (rising to £2.6 billion in 2020-21). The ONS is awaiting further guidance from Eurostat on their treatment; and
  • new items announced in the October and November Public Sector Finances releases, which the ONS is planning to include over the coming months. These include lighthouse dues, British Transport Police service agreements and other small items of receipts and negative spending. (This is related to work that the ONS, the Treasury and we have been undertaking to resolve previously unexplained differences between accrued and cash measures of borrowing, discussed in Box 4.3 of our July EFO.)

In its October Public Sector Finances release, the ONS announced that it will start to include two items that we have previously included in our forecasts:

  • community infrastructure levy: a levy on property developers that has been included as a central government tax on production; and
  • heavy goods vehicle road user levy: a charge that started in April 2014 and has been included as a central government tax on production. We have adjusted our vehicle excise duty forecast to align with this treatment.

Details of the items included in our forecast that do not yet appear in outturn data are shown in a supplementary fiscal table on our website.

This box was originally published in Economic and fiscal outlook – November 2015

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