THE Scottish Conservatives will not propose means-testing the Winter Fuel Payment in Scotland when it launches its election manifesto in Edinburgh today.

Theresa May took the controversial step south of the border as part of a move to help plug a £2 billion a year deficit in social care in England; it would mean that the annual payment, worth up to £300, would only go to poorer pensioners in future.

However, David Mundell explained the Tories in Scotland would not be following suit and would propose keeping the allowance as a universal benefit.

Explaining why the Scottish Conservatives wanted a different approach, he said: “The specific view in relation to Scotland is that, obviously we have different climatic issues and we have a different geography and there are far more people off-grid, who receive their fuel from not the gas or electricity grid but in terms of liquid gas, for example.

“There is a different backdrop in Scotland in relation to both winter and fuel and that’s why we believe in the Scottish Conservatives it should continue as a universal benefit,” added the Scottish Secretary.

Mr Mundell insisted it was not difficult to persuade the Prime Minister that there should be a different approach in Scotland because she supported the 2016 Scotland Act and the differential arrangements north of the border. “That’s devolution,” he insisted.

As she launched her programme for government in Yorkshire, the Conservative leader promised to govern for "mainstream Britain".

Her agenda amounted to a raid deep into traditional Labour territory with promises to protect elderly people against the cost of social care, boost the National Living Wage and deliver an £8bn boost to NHS funding.

Mrs May tore up David Cameron's 2015 "tax lock" pledge not to raise income tax or national insurance but she promised not to hike VAT and said it was her "firm intention" not to increase taxes on businesses or working families.

She rejected suggestions that policies such as an energy price cap, a commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of GDP on international aid and new rights for workers represented a move away from the Conservatism of Margaret Thatcher.

"Margaret Thatcher was a Conservative, I am a Conservative, this is a Conservative manifesto," declared the PM.

She insisted there was “no Mayism,” just “good, solid Conservatism that puts the interests of the country and the interests of ordinary working people at the heart of everything we do in government".

However, her party’s plans for social care south of the border were highly contentious. The decision to scrap a planned £72,000 cap on social care bills was denounced by Sir Andrew Dilnot, the author of a seminal report on the issue, who said pensioners would be left "helpless" to control costs.

Instead, Mrs May offered a guarantee that no-one would be forced out of their home or left with assets of less than £100,000 as a result of care costs.

However, Jeremy Corbyn described the plan as a "tax on dementia," which would see people with long-lasting and extreme conditions run up vast bills.

"Millions of pensioners are betrayed by Theresa May's manifesto," claimed the Labour leader.

Paul Johnson, the Director of the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies, said the Tory and Labour manifestos offered the widest divergence in their approach to tax and spending for many years.

"From the Labour Party we have a much bigger state, much more spending, much more tax. In the Conservative manifesto e have much more small-c conservatism. There isn't a lot more spending or a lot more tax," he said.