Lib Dem manifesto to target pensioners

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Pensioners would be hundreds of pounds better off under Liberal Democrat plans, the party claimed today.

Pensioners would be hundreds of pounds better off under Liberal Democrat plans, the party claimed today.

The party leader, Charles Kennedy, confirmed a long-standing package of measures for pensioners which he said was worth £6.7bn more than Labour's plans.

The main policy is a promise of a new "citizen's pension". Single pensioners over 75 would get more than £100 extra a month, and couples would get more than £140 extra.

Eventually, that increase would be rolled out to all of Britain's 10.7 million pensioners. But the Liberal Democrats say it would be too expensive to do it immediately. They will also scrap council tax, replacing it with a local income tax. They say eight million pensioners will benefit from the proposal and six million will pay no local tax at all.

Other plans would see the introduction of free personal care for the elderly, free off-peak local bus travel for pensioners and the scrapping of the current "arbitrary" retirement age.

The pension plans will cost £3bn a year. The party insists it will not need to put up taxes to foot the bill. Instead, it will re-prioritise £5bn of existing spending. The remaining £2bn will go on other areas such as education and policing.

Mr Kennedy said: "Our message to older citizens is that we recognise our debt to you. You have worked long and hard to build up our country. It is time to treat older citizens fairly. It is time for a real alternative approach."

A single pensioner over 75 would be at least £1,633 better off taking into account the pension and local income tax, according to party figures.

Couples over 75 would benefit by more than £2,302.

People who need personal care would, in effect, benefit by thousands of pounds.

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