By Bob Duncan
Ruth Davidson has been challenged to apologise to pensioners after claiming they are not ‘net contributors’ to Scotland, and to explain how much more money she thinks should be taken from them.
In her speech to the UK Tory conference in Birmingham this week, Davidson falsely claimed pensioners made a negative net contribution to Scotland. Critics claimed this was particularly insulting in light of the fact that Tory policies are already taking hundreds of pounds from the pockets of pensioners, notably through the so-called Granny Tax.
Many commentators have argued that the attack on Scotland’s one million pensioners, many of whom are life-long conservative supporters, is unlikely to increase the Conservative vote in Scotland, which is already at an historic low.
With independent research published earlier this year showing that Tory policies announced in the Budget will leave pensioners £900 worse off by the end of 2014, Ms Davidson’s ill-judged comments have raised the prospect of tougher financial hardship being inflicted on Scotland’s older people if she had her way.
A new report, prepared for the Saga Charitable Foundation reveals that by around April 2014 the combination of coalition policies and very low interest rates is likely to cost each pensioner over £1,300. This will have a devastating impact on the spending power of this important consumer group, further depressing demand and extending the recession.
Dr Ros Altmann, Director-General of Saga, said: “Pensioners are being hammered. They didn’t cause our economic meltdown yet they have been paying a heavy price as we try to fix it and they face an even tighter financial squeeze in future.
“Those retiring now are the biggest losers in life’s pension lottery as tax and benefit changes will compound the misery wreaked by paltry savings rates, plunging annuity rates and overshooting inflation.”
Glasgow SNP MSP Bob Doris has now written to Ruth Davidson to remind her of the money that her party is already taking from Scotland’s pensioners, and demanding that she apologise for insulting them by saying they do not ‘contribute’ to society.
Mr Doris who is Deputy Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee said:
“Scots who have worked hard all of their lives and paid their taxes deserve dignity and respect.
“It’s bad enough for Ruth Davidson to insult pensioners by telling them that they haven’t made a net contribution to society. But to do this while her own party is already reducing their income by hundreds of pounds every year frankly beggars belief.
“In Glasgow alone, pensioners will be £35 million worse off this year thanks to policies from the Tory-led Government at Westminster. This is money being taken from some of the most vulnerable people in our society, during the toughest economic period this country has seen since the Second World War.
“From the Granny Tax to changes in Winter Fuel Payments, it’s becoming clear that the Tories have an agenda to punish Scotland’s older people, but Ruth Davidson seemingly believes that they haven’t gone far enough.
“The onus on her now is to apologise to Scotland’s pensioners – and explain exactly how much more money she thinks should be taken from them.”