Labour and the SNP both backed these policies – indeed, Labour won May's local election in Glasgow on a pledge to freeze the council tax for another five years.
But that consensus was shattered when Labour leader Johann Lamont said that all of these policies should be reviewed – although she still refuses to say exactly what charges should be reintroduced, for who and at what level.
I think Johann is wrong – not wrong to say that budgets are under pressure, but wrong to conclude that the people who should bear the brunt of Tory cuts are pensioners, the sick, hard-pressed families and working-class kids who aspire to a university education.
When she claimed that Scotland has a 'something for nothing' culture, she insulted all those who work hard and pay taxes.
Universal benefits – which, in my view, should play a part in any civilised welfare system – are important in that they give something back to people who contribute their taxes to pay for these benefits.
In times of austerity, when many people are coping with wage freezes, they are also an important part of what the SNP government has called the 'social wage'.
But these benefits are not just right in principle – there are sound practical arguments for them as well.
They often help to prevent greater long term costs. For example, if we re-introduced charges for personal care, many more elderly people would end up in hospital, with all the costs that entails.
Likewise with prescription charges – under the old system, many people with chronic conditions didn't take all their medicines, making their conditions worse as a result.
Of course, all of these benefits have to be paid for and they are.
The SNP government has balanced its budget each year and taken steps to reform our public services and make them more efficient.
Johann Lamont is, of course, right to say that the Scottish Government budget is being cut, year on year, by the Tory/Liberal coalition at Westminster.
But my answer to that is very different to hers. I believe Scotland should have control of all of our own resources – not simply the portion that Westminster decides to give us back.
Controlling our own resources would not magic away the financial challenges we face – but it would open up different and better choices.
Johann Lamont wants Scotland to be stuck in a Tory straitjacket. I want us to make our own decisions.
That's the big difference between us.