The Budget is one of the biggest events in the political calendar, and while the chancellor’s speech happens on one day, the speculation and dissection means the event can dominate the headlines for more than a week.

Normally, in the preceding days, different tax cuts and spending ideas under consideration are trailed in the newspapers to test how popular they might be before the chancellor decides to commit to them.

On the day itself, there’s the photograph outside No 11 Downing Street with the traditional red box, and then the chancellor normally enjoys making some surprise announcements to raucous cheers from his backbenchers.

The government is then pretty much guaranteed good headlines for around three days whilst opposition MPs and journalists are left hurriedly raking through the small print.

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This year however was far more sedate.

There were no ‘rabbits out of the hat’.

Even the main announcement - a pre-election 2p cut in national insurance - barely raised a cheer out of Conservative backbenchers.

The Chancellor’s claim to be “cutting taxes” was roundly de-bunked within minutes: the truth is that millions of people will be worse off next year, as they are dragged into paying higher levels of income tax.

Unbelievably the government failed to invest any new money into our NHS: a disastrous decision given the huge numbers of people struggling to see a GP or a dentist, the 7.7 million people waiting for an NHS operation, the huge delays in cancer treatment and the growing backlog of hospital building repairs.

As always, there were some small and sensible announcements that even opposition MPs could welcome.

The government scrapped the £90 charge for debt relief order as called for by Citizens Advice and extended the Recovery Loan Scheme for small businesses.

Both measures are sensible, but both are also a sombre reminder of the fragility of finances for so many families and small businesses alike.

Commentators quickly concluded that the Budget would make little difference to economic growth or to people’s lives.

Many said this was the Conservative’s last chance to turn the country’s economic fortunes around. In the event, the Budget came and went, not with a bang but a whimper.