>Just a quick comment on the Tory manifesto, launched this morning before I head off to Dunfermline for a hot date with some envelopes. I lead such a glamorous life………
There is a huge inconsistency between their policy to reintroduce prescription charges at £5 an item, saying that free prescriptions take too much money out of the NHS, and their plan to give a £200 Council Tax cut to pensioner households.
I watched the other week as Scottish Conservative Deputy Leader Murdo Fraser told the Scotland on Sunday health debate that all the speakers as MSPs could easily afford to pay the charge and so didn’t need free prescriptions.
How, then, can the Tories justify giving a £200 Council Tax cut to pensioner households regardless of income. They are giving wealthy pensioners a boost to their income that frankly they don’t need. The Scottish Liberal Democrat policy is much better at targeting the cut at where it’s most needed – under our plans, no pensioner with an income of less than £10,000 would pay any Council Tax at all, giving them up to £400 back.
I am no fan of the Winter Fuel Allowance going to wealthy pensioners either. And I have an interest in this one – my husband will get it this year and we absolutely don’t need it. It angers me that we will get it and a family with a disabled child won’t. That, unfortunately, is one of the things that the UK Coalition has not sorted out because Cameron promised pensioners their WFA would be left alone.
If I were a cynic, I might be inclined to think that those who would suffer most from having to pay a reintroduced prescription charge of £5 are as a whole less likely to vote Tory than wealthy pensioners.
I can also think of a few people who might benefit from this Tory tax cut for the better off, certainly by the time of the next Holyrood election in 2016. Let me see, there’s Annabel Goldie, Ted Brocklebank, Bill Aitken, Nanette Milne, Alex Fergusson, Mary Scanlon, Jamie McGrigor and John Scott. You’ve got to admit that these past or present Tory Holyrood figures are bound to be amongst the richest pensioners in the country.
When the Liberal Democrats rearrange the tax system, we do it on the basis of fairness and need. That’s why the rich had a 10% hike in their Capital Gains Tax, and those on the lowest incomes are now getting a £200 tax cut this year. The Tories on the other hand are all over the place on these universal benefits. Common sense? Not so much.