The National:

I HAVE been monitoring UK budgets since the 1970s, and listening to and watching them since that was first permitted. For the last decade I have done so knowing that as the Chancellor sits down I will, be doing live budget commentary with Jeremy Vine on BBC Radio 2, which adds a certain stress to the event. Only then can I sit down and read the detail.

The headlines from today’s Budget are fourfold.

First, nothing like enough is being done to compensate those who are losing the £20 a week Universal Credit uplift. It’s true that the reduction in the taper for Universal Credit will claw back less of the increase in the minimum wage than expected, but for those hard up there is still a very tough winter to come. Comments Sunak made at the start of the budget made it clear that this is by choice.

READ MORE: Budget: Opposition parties given document with key details blanked out

Second, Sunak also made it clear that he is in favour of interest rate rises, which might hit many households hard if they have borrowings. in what looked like a casual aside, he made it clear that he expects the Bank of England to take all necessary steps to control inflation, even though his own budget documentation shows that the Office for Budget Responsibility thinks that this will only be temporary. It’s clear he will not miss a chance to impose hardship ion those already struggling.

Sunak has staked his political reputation, and so his chance of becoming leader of the Conservative Party, on wildly optimistic growth forecasts which underpin his budget. There is almost no chance that any of these will be delivered.

Third, running throughout the announcement made were continual digs at Scotland, common Wales and Northern Ireland. Whether it was the environmentally disastrous decision to cut airport taxes before COP26, which will be imposed on Scotland, all the decision to direct funds without Holyrood's involvement to Scottish cities, Sunak was clearly indicating that he intends to undermine the devolution settlement.

The National:

Fourth, and most important of all, was that the message that Rishi Sunak wished to deliver was that this was a Budget for a new era of optimism. He obviously is. The growth forecasts in the Budget suggest that will be back to normal after Covid by very early next year. I think that incredibly unlikely. Even more unlikely is the suggestion that underpins his claim that government borrowing will fall heavily. To achieve this he thinks that business will instead borrow record amounts and that households will, overall, stop saving for the next five years, which is historically unprecedented. These are wholly unrealistic expectations.

Only someone deeply detached from reality could believe that anyone is being swept by a wave of optimism at this moment. The fact that retail sales have fallen for the last five months is the surest indication that people are not bouncing back from Covid in the way that optimists suggested they would. People are, instead, quite reasonably worried about a government that is out of control. Supply chains are still disrupted. Gas prices are rising. So too are petrol and diesel prices. Given what the Chancellor has said, those on Universal Credit and pensioners are going to have less income than they expected next year. And then there is Covid. Scotland is doing well on this, but England is most definitely not and will, as ever, drag Scotland down with it as things are at present.

The mood on the streets is not of optimism. My sense is that pessimism prevails. This, I stress, is backed by research. As I have mentioned before in this column, my friend Professor Danny Blanchflower, who is at the University of Glasgow, has promoted the idea of the "economics of walking about". As his evidence shows, people are actually much better able to predict when recessions will occur than governments are. The current evidence is that people in both the UK and USA expect recession in 2022. I think they are right.

In that case every one of the assumptions that Rishi Sunak made in this budget is wrong. We needed increase spending on investment, better protection for people, and more money devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland so that they can boost their economies in the way that is appropriate to meet local need. That is not what we got. Sunak believes he can get away with this as most in the smaller countries of the Union will never vote Tory come what may. He may be right about that. The shock for him is that I do not think the people of south-east England will put up with him getting so much wrong. They are also worried, and he’s badly misread their mood. We can hope he pays the price for that.