Westminster ‘short changes’ Scots on pensions

Pensions policy is currently reserved to Westminster, which plans to raise the retirement age to 67 from 2026. Picture: Jon Savage
Pensions policy is currently reserved to Westminster, which plans to raise the retirement age to 67 from 2026. Picture: Jon Savage
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RETIRED Scots get less out of their state pension than their counterparts south of the Border because of lower life expectancy, official research out today will claim.

The Scottish Government will use the figures to claim that the shared UK pension age “short changes” Scots by £11,000.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and newly appointed Cabinet Secretary for Pensioner’s Rights Shona Robison will launch the research today.

Pensions policy is currently reserved to Westminster, which plans to raise the retirement age to 67 from 2026.

Ms Sturgeon has also called on Westminster to “come clean” on the level at which the new single-tier state pension – due to be introduced in 2016 – will be set. The Scottish Government has confirmed that, in the event of a Yes vote, the Scottish Government will set this at £160 per week in 2016, or match the UK government if that is higher.

In letters to David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband, Ms Sturgeon said: “People in Scotland know what the amount will be if they vote Yes. Surely they should also know what it will be if they vote No.”

The Scottish Government is preparing to put the spotlight of the independence debate on pensioners’ rights this week.

Ms Sturgeon said: “None of the Westminster parties have said what they intend the value of the new single-tier pension to be. That means the only certainty future pensioners now have on their pensions payments comes with a Yes vote.”

The UK government has stepped up its case for the union with a booklet setting out the “striking” benefits which Scotland has seen as part of the UK.

Entitled Scotland in the UK, it states: “Wherever we live in the UK, people receive the same benefit payments, regardless of the peaks and troughs of local economies, or differences between local populations.

“The size and strength of the UK economy helps us to support people in times of need.”

Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael described the UK as “the greatest political and economic union the world has ever known”.

“We have stability and certainty, jobs and opportunities,” he said.

“The benefits of the UK are striking, it has served us well and will continue to serve us well in the years ahead.”

The UK government warns that not going ahead with the increase in the pension age to 67 would cost people in Scotland around £6 billion between 2026-27 and 2035-36 in extra pension costs, while the economy would shrink by £9bn as people leave the labour market earlier.

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