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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 October 2006, 17:35 GMT 18:35 UK
Tories call for free care refund
elderly person silhouette
The Conservatives want to cut council tax for pensioners
Annabel Goldie has been defeated in a motion which attacked the Scottish Executive's approach to the elderly.

The Scottish Conservative leader called for pensioners wrongly charged for free personal care to get immediate refunds during a debate at Holyrood.

She also attacked council tax increases in the debate to highlight the party's new policies for the elderly.

The Tories are promising a 50% discount in council tax for those over 65 and a new agenda for "active retirement".

But MSPs from other parties claimed the Conservatives had increased pensioner poverty when in office.

Laying out her party's position, Ms Goldie said the executive's flagship policy of free care for the elderly had been only a partial success.

It is high time that this executive and Cosla got their heads together and gave a full refund now to everyone wrongly charged
Annabel Goldie
Scottish Conservatives

She told MSPs the party wanted to call on the skill, wisdom and experience of the country's "grey-sky thinkers" ahead of the elections next May.

Ms Goldie said many were still being denied access to services to which they were entitled, while in Edinburgh some had been paying for such services.

"The question for the executive is this, in how many more areas throughout Scotland is this the case?" she said.

"It is high time that this executive and Cosla got their heads together and gave a full refund now to everyone wrongly charged in the past."

Ms Goldie said that council tax levels had gone up by an "astonishing" 60% since 1997.

'Pensioner poverty'

But her proposals were attacked by MSPs from other parties.

Communities Minister Malcolm Chisholm said that when the Conservatives left office pensioner poverty was greater than it had been for decades.

Scottish Socialist Party leader Colin Fox also blamed the party for pensioner poverty.

He said: "It was the Conservative party which introduced both the hated council tax and severed the link between earnings and pensions in the first place."

The Scottish National Party's Christine Grahame told the chamber that one in five pensioners lived in poverty.

Liberal Democrat backbencher Mike Rumbles described Ms Goldie's motion as "cack handed".

The Tory motion was defeated by 63 votes to 43 with 11 abstentions.


SEE ALSO
Goldie makes council tax pledge
02 Oct 06 |  Scotland
Minister admits to care 'issues'
20 Sep 06 |  Scotland
Care alarm complaint thrown out
29 Aug 06 |  Tayside and Central
'Confusion' over free care policy
28 Aug 06 |  Scotland
Call for care compensation claims
18 Aug 06 |  South of Scotland

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