Take the rural economy. One of the safer predictions is that farming, agriculture and countryside issues will be lucky to receive the most cursory of mentions in tomorrow’s Budget, the Government’s chance to restore some credibility.
However this is not good enough. If Mr Hammond, and others, recognised the opportunities that do exist in rural areas like North Yorkshire if the right business infrastructure was in place, and that there were sufficient affordable homes for young families, more people might live and work in the countryside.
And that, in turn, would make it easier to justify investment in those rural services which continue to be shortchanged because Government spending is still skewed so heavily in favour of metropolitan areas.
Though changes to the school funding formula have begun to tackle this imbalance, England’s 37 shire areas are still the poor relations by some £3.2bn a year according to the County Councils Network.
To put this figure in context, it means there are 26 million people who are receiving sub-standard services because they don’t live in politically favoured towns and cities. Not only is this at odds with the Government’s ‘One Nation’ mantra but the Tories have always prided themselves on being the true party of the countryside. That this can no longer be taken for granted speaks volumes about the true state of the country.