Scottish independence: Pension rights pledge by Sturgeon

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WOMEN will be entitled to the same pension rights as men in an independent Scotland, under plans being examined by the SNP leadership.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is considering support for the move as part of a series of flagship female-friendly policies that the party could be campaigning on in the run-up to the independence referendum in 2014.

The move would reform the existing entitlement, which sees women often having lower state pensions because their 
National Insurance contributions are more likely to be broken by time taken out to look after children.

Anther proposal being considered by Ms Sturgeon includes a move to enhance pay and benefits for women to reduce 
childhood poverty. A citizen’s pensions scheme could also be created, as part of plans to guarantee Scots a decent income in retirement.

Ms Sturgeon is understood to be very critical of the existing pension arrangements for women and wants the issue of reform to be at the heart of SNP policy.

The Deputy First Minister is also said to view pensions and gender equality as key issues for the independence referendum campaign, with women voters seen as crucial to the outcome of the 2014 vote.

A source close to Ms Sturgeon said: “We want to put the issue of women’s equality at the forefront of the independence debate and we are considering a range of policies that could be implemented in an independent Scotland.”

However, Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone claimed that the Nationalists were only considering the move in order to attract votes.

He added that the SNP had not costed the spending implications of its plans.

He said: “The SNP will promise anything to anyone without saying how it will be paid for in an independent Scotland.

“The financial position in an independent Scotland would be similar to that currently facing the UK.”