IF anyone is still unsure of the damage Brexit is doing - and will continue to do - to our economy and living standards, then they need look no further than the budget published by the Chancellor last week.

The revised growth figures he outlined for the next few years were some of the the worst in living memory.

Attempts to eliminate the deficit have come completely unstuck.

Once upon a time, the Chancellor’s predecessor George Osborne used to boast that the Tories would balance the UK budget by 2015 - but last week Mr Hammond was forced to admit that this isn’t expected to happen until 2031, a full sixteen years late.

And perhaps most pressingly for families across the country, we learned that average earnings are not expected to recover to their pre-recession levels until 2025.

That’s 18 years of lost growth – and it is particularly serious at a time of rising inflation.

There can now be absolutely no doubt – Brexit is hurting our economy and the impact is only likely to get worse.

I hope all of this serves as a wake-up call to those who are still determined to pursue a hard Brexit. This should be the moment that the UK Government finally realises the vital importance of staying in the Single Market and the EU customs union.

The effects of Brexit are now compounding the damage caused by years of Tory austerity economics - a policy approach which has demonstrably failed.

The Chancellor’s response was just to deliver more of the same.

What we needed in the budget was a completely new approach – investment in public services, an end to austerity and a commitment to lift the 1% public sector pay cap. But that is not what we got.

Indeed, for Scotland, the budget means more cuts - despite the Tories’ desperate claim last week that it actually meant increases in public spending for Scotland. This assertion was just an exercise in smoke and mirrors, and the claims barely stood up to five minutes’ scrutiny.

It turned out that much of the additional funding coming to Scotland is in the form of financial transactions which - while welcome - can’t be used to fund day to day spending on public services. They also have to be repaid.

The fact is that our day to day budget will see further reductions next year after inflation is taken into account - and it will be £2.6 billion lower in real terms at the end of this decade than it was at the start.

That’s equivalent to around a fifth of our NHS budget.

Let’s not forget that just a few months ago, the weakened Tory government found £1bn for Northern Ireland in return for the DUP propping them up in government – so they can’t pretend that the money isn’t there.

Disappointing funding settlements from the UK Government are no longer really a surprise – what was perhaps more surprising last week was that the Chancellor had nothing concrete to say about lifting the public sector pay cap.

Low wage growth is being felt by families across the UK. For our part, the SNP Government believes public sector workers deserve a pay rise and we intend to deliver one in Scotland.

Equally, Mr Hammond did little to alleviate the social security cuts which are being imposed on some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

We had called for a halt in the botched rollout of Universal Credit – which has been dubbed ‘a human and political catastrophe’ – but the small changes the Chancellor announced did little more than tinker around the edges.

Some measures in the budget were to be welcomed, such as more support for Scotland’s oil and gas industry – but of course, this has to be viewed alongside an inadequacy of action during the recent tough years.

And I am pleased that the Tories have finally agreed to stop charging VAT to our emergency services.

It was a huge injustice that Scotland’s Police and Fire services were the only territorial forces in the whole of the UK liable to pay VAT - a scandal which took around £35m a year from our frontline services.

The SNP – and many others – have been campaigning on this for some time. It was very telling that the Scottish Tories only really got behind this campaign in the last few weeks when they clearly knew that the Chancellor was set to perform a u-turn.

However, given that the UK Government now accepts they it was wrong to charge VAT, they should also refund the £140m that they have raked in from our police and fire services over the last few years.

In a couple of weeks’ time, the Scottish Government will be unveiling our own spending plans for the year ahead.

Once again, we will do so in the face of many economic headwinds that are not of Scotland’s making. We will have tough decisions to make.

But that makes it all the more important that we do everything we can to protect our vital public services, support the economy and boost wages.