Should Scots pensions be ‘genes tested’?

PENSIONS secretary Shona Robison has called for an earlier retiral age in Scotland because of the lower life expectancy in Scotland than the rest of the UK (your report, 13 May). The difference is 1.3 years for women and 1.2 for men.

She seems to have ignored the fact that within Scotland a much greater differential exists with life expectancy for men 2.4 years less than that for women. According to her logic, men in Scotland are being “short-changed” and it would be interesting to hear from her whether – to be consistent – she is proposing that men should have a lower retiral age than women here.

Equally, will she advocate a lower retiral age in the most deprived parts of Glasgow compared with other cities in Scotland that have a longer life expectancy?

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I suspect her claims of the poor Scots being hard done by are not about equity and fairness, but a cynical attempt to stir up grievance and hostility towards the rest of the UK.

Dr David R Love


So, IN an independent Scotland we are to be rewarded with an improved pension regime as a result of lower life expectancy north of the Border.

Setting aside the question as to how this would be funded, given John Swinney’s concerns over pension affordability revealed in the leaked cabinet paper, one wonders how far the SNP would be willing to advance this “policy” to its logical conclusion?

Your report shows that men in the Orkneys and women in East Dumbartonshire have a higher life expectancy than their counterparts in Glasgow. Would these groups have the starting date for their pensions adjusted as a result? Indeed, perhaps we could have pensions tailored according to each individual’s lifestyle and genetic make-up – genes tested as opposed to means tested?

Colin Hamilton

Braid Hills Avenue


Your cartoon published 
on 13 May is an absolute 
disgrace and affront to every hard-working Scotsman and Scotswoman. The reason we have a lower life expectancy in Scotland is largely explained by the large numbers of hard-working men and women who have had hard manual jobs over the past 50 to 75 years

Your cartoon suggests that people in Scotland live shorter lives because we all sit around eating sausages and drinking. It’s actually as a result of the greater levels of poverty, hard manual labour jobs and lower life opportunities in large population areas, particularly round Glasgow.

Jonathan Gordon

Brunstane Road


I AM not quite as fortunate as Dr Roger Cartwright (Letters, 
13 May). As things stand, I will have to wait until I am 66 to receive my UK state pension as the UK government has raised the pension age because, on average, people are living longer than hitherto.

If it makes sense for the UK government to increase the pension age because people are living longer, then it makes just as much sense in a Scottish context to have a lower pension age if life expectancy in Scotland is, sadly, lower than elsewhere in UK.

Instead of lowering the pension age in Scotland, Dr Cartwright would appear to prefer spending the money that might be spent on this on greater health provision instead. Using the same logic, I can only assume he would also support greater health provision being provided across the UK by raising the state 
pension age even further to, say, 70.

I can only assume, too, that if Dr Cartwright prefers his pension to be backed by going on for 65 million people in UK rather than just over 5 million in Scotland, he would – by the same logic – actually much prefer it to be backed by some 500 million people in the European Union; so why doesn’t he say this?

Dr Cartwright talks of indefensible positions. I am left wondering exactly what positions he is trying to defend and why.

Andrew Parrott

Stuart Avenue