Party leader Ruth Davidson today launches her own attack on free prescriptions, tuition fees, bus passes and the council tax freeze, accusing the SNP government of ring-fencing them to “buy support for independence”.
If in government, Davidson says the Tories would aim to cut spending on such policies and use the savings to cut income tax to below levels in the rest of the UK.
The Scots Tory leader, speaking after Labour leader Johann Lamont called for a rethink of spending decisions last week, said she would reintroduce NHS prescription charges for the better off, and bring in a new graduate contribution scheme to pay towards university fees and raise the age limit for concessionary travel from 60 to 65. She claims the moves will save more than £100 million.
Davidson said that due to the new Scotland Act, the Scottish Parliament would have the power to alter income tax rates in 2016. “When those powers return to the Scottish Parliament in 2016 we will aim to see income tax in Scotland reduced by one pence in the pound,” she added.
The Tories claim that the cut, which would cost the government £563m, would return £119 to a taxpayer on £20,000 and £344 to a taxpayer on £45,000.
An SNP spokesman said ordinary Scots would be “horrified” by what it called a “Tory-Labour collusion to remove free education and reintroduce prescription charges.”