Pensions puzzle

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IS THERE not something missing from Dennis Canavan’s piece (Perspective Extra, 17 May) on the referendum? It concentrates mostly on the issue of pensions, yet it does not contain a single mention of the SNP’s latest “policy” on pensions related to life expectancy – a policy which is described in the same issue by Brian Wilson (Perspective) as “politics of the dung-heap”. Is this the first stage in the process of furtively removing it from the dung-heap and consigning it to the dust bin?

Mr Canavan does, however, commend the SNP’s track record in providing services or benefits to pensioners. Mr Canavan’s erstwhile colleagues in the Scottish Labour Party do not share his admiration for universal benefits. As to the council tax freeze, how does this benefit the most vulnerable pensioners who will be paying little or no council tax in the first place? It benefits all householders who have a reasonable income. And it is of most benefit to those whose houses are in the higher council tax bands – the higher the band the greater the benefit. So it may benefit “many” pensioners, but it is hardly convincing evidence of how, under independence, we would be likely “to build a fairer Scotland”.

Then there is the question of funding over which finance secretary John Swinney has secretly expressed concern. Mr Canavan claims that we could tackle 
“demographic challenges” by having a “full range of economic levers”. Does this mean that as well as ditching its pensions policy, the SNP is also ditching its currency policy? It is well established that it is simply not the case that Scotland would have control of the economic levers if it wished to retain the pound in a currency union.

So, has Mr Canavan omitted another key point? Under this “better deal”, would we be paid our pensions in euros or in Ecks?

Colin Hamilton

Braid Hills Avenue 

Edinburgh

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