- The Tories have been accused of being “utter hypocrites” after it emerged that they want to cut winter fuel payments for pensioners in England but not in Scotland. On a trip to Edinburgh, Theresa May defended plans to protect winter fuel allowance for all Scottish pensioners while cutting it for many south of the border. She said:
Well, we have devolution in the United Kingdom and, as a government, we have given the Scottish government significant powers in relation to welfare, and they make a number of decisions about various welfare benefits in Scotland.
The decision we have made about winter fuel payments is that we will continue to ensure that the least well-off pensioners are supported but there is a principle of fairness.
Scottish Tories are saying pensioners in Scotland should be exempt from the UK cuts, because the cold weather in the country increases the need for winter fuel payments (see 9.50am). Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader, said:
We’ve made a different choice in Scotland in our Scottish manifesto today. We believe there shouldn’t be means testing for the winter fuel payment.
But Labour and the Lib Dems said the fact that Scottish Tories could not support the policy showed it was in trouble. Andrew Gwynne, Labour’s elections coordinator, said:
When the Scottish Tory leader comes out against her own party’s attack on pensioner incomes, I think it’s fair to say the policy is starting to unravel.
The Tory attack on pensioners’ winter fuel allowance is unfair and outrageous, and lays bare the threat they pose to pensioners’ security and living standards.
And the Lib Dem leader, Tim Farron, said:
The Tories are utter hypocrites. How can they take cash off English pensioners and then give it to Scottish pensioners? It looks like a cheap election bung and it won’t wash.
- May has said she wants Scotland to play a bigger part in UK life. In a speech in…