This budget should be seen for what it is: the latest episode of a Conservative Party drama in which everyone is cast in the wrong role. Philip Hammond would like to be playing a traditional Conservative chancellor being sensible with the public’s money and making big cuts to tax. Instead, he has to preside over an economic crisis and prescribe more public spending.

His fellow actors in the economic drama are similarly miscast. Theresa May is a Remainer playing a Brexiter. Boris Johnson thinks he should be playing the lead role but is forced to be in the chorus. About the only Tory in the right role is the bad guy: Jacob Rees-Mogg, in tailored black.

If you think I’ve taken that metaphor too far, this is the Budget - people expect metaphors. So here’s another: if there is an economic tidal wave coming, some of Mr Hammond’s critics thinks he’s facing it armed only with a sieve. The wave is Brexit of course and pretty much everyone – including Mr Hammond privately and often publicly as well – accepts the economy is going to be badly affected if there is a deal with the EU and even more badly affected if there isn’t.

This is why Mr Hammond has been forced to play the role for which he is ill-suited: the big spender. The budget announced more money for schools, hospitals, veterans, potholes, policing and apprenticeships among other things, but it was the money for the high street that arguably has the potential to make the greatest day-to-day difference to most of us.

We all know the problem he’s trying to tackle because we’ve all been down a high street in the last few years and seen the To Let signs, the shutters, the bookies and the pound shops (and even some of those are closing down). Last year I spent time speaking to the businesses along Sauchiehall Street and it was a depressing experience. There is a big new improvement scheme under way on Glasgow’s grand old street, but the fundamental problems aren’t going anywhere, as Philip Hammond said in his speech, the biggest being the costs high-street businesses have to endure and the shift to online. To an extent, we only have ourselves to blame for it – as the Chancellor pointed out, the British have adopted online shopping with greater alacrity than other European countries, but they have also adopted moaning about the state of the high street with just as much enthusiasm. We can’t have it both ways.

However, in his budget, the Chancellor has the beginnings of a promising solution to the problem. There will be business rates relief amounting to £900m and £650m to rejuvenate high streets. However, even more interesting is the plan to ease planning rules so retail buildings can be more easily changed to residential.

This, sneaked in almost under the radar, is one of the most radical measures in the budget because it seeks to break down a rule that councils across the UK have stuck to forever - that the high street is for businesses only. Largely, councils have loved this rule because it means a steady income from business rates – or at least it did. Now there are no longer enough businesses to fill the empty units and pay tax to the council, so more radical solutions are needed.

The Chancellor has now given his approval to one of them: which is that it should be easier to have mixed high streets made up of shops and cafes but homes as well. He has also taken the lead over other countries in announcing a new digital services tax on large technology companies such as Facebook, Google and Amazon. It doesn’t redress the imbalance between how high-street and online businesses are taxed, but it’s a start.

The question now is what the Scottish Government will do about it all. The funding that the Chancellor announced is for the whole of the UK, but it will be up to the individual nations of the union to decide exactly how to use the cash and the hope must be that the Government in Scotland will take the opportunity to make similar changes to our system here – fundamentally and for the long-term.

You will know, though, that the Scottish Government’s track record on this is not good: in April last year, the rates revaluation left many firms facing tax hikes as their properties were revalued for the first time in seven years. Firms across Scotland were also forced to pay more tax than their English counterparts due to the Scottish Government’s large business rates supplement. It also flunked the opportunity that the Barclay Review offered for profound reform.

The Scottish Government has admittedly sought to make some amends – the finance minister Derek Mackay announced a cap of 12.5 per cent on the rises for one year and that has now been extended until 2022. But this week’s Budget offers the chance for something more, if the Scottish Government takes it: a chance to make starting and growing a business on the high street easier and cheaper, a chance to simplify the current system which is confused and complicated, but above all a chance to make the competition between the high street and online, bricks and mortar and keyboard, much, much fairer.