NEXT Wednesday is Budget Day. Normally this would be the talk of the Westminster corridors. Not this time.

For weeks, Labour MPs have been conspicuous by their absence from the Commons – ordered by Jeremy Corbyn to go and try and save Labour’s bacon in the Stoke and Copeland by-elections. On the Conservative side, right-wing backbenchers are more fixated on securing a hard Brexit than running the country. It has been left to SNP MPs to hold the Government to account.

So what can we expect from the Chancellor? Around £17bn of tax rises are already pencilled in over the lifetime of this Parliament. That includes a stealth tax on insurance premiums – something I’ve challenged the Chancellor on repeatedly face-to-face at the Treasury Committee. Fortunately, the SNP Government in Scotland has tried to blunt the impact of Tory tax rises by freezing council tax for the past nine years. That has put over £2.5bn into Scottish household pockets. This year, to provide more cash at a local level, councils are being allowed to put up council tax. The Labour-Conservative administration in East Lothian is raising council tax by the maximum – 3 per cent.

Also, expect the Chancellor to cut spending further on top of the 10 per cent sliced from service budgets by his predecessor. By 2020, departmental spending will be 13 per cent lower in real terms than in 2010. Note: that cut also applies to the Treasury grant to the Scottish Government. Which is why it is high time Scotland kept its own tax revenues and spent them on Scottish priorities.

My biggest worry is the Chancellor has designs on the state pension. Last year, he dropped a big hint that the triple lock – that the state pension rises each year by whichever of prices, earnings or 2.5 per cent is highest – could be scrapped after the next General Election.

I dare say the Chancellor will offer a few ‘goodies’. Don’t be fooled. With a hard Brexit looming, and economic growth slowing, Mr Hammond has designs on your wallet.