Scottish independence: Pension age plan 'not fair on Scots'

Old people eating a meal The Scottish government says pensioners would get a fairer deal in an independent Scotland

A UK-wide plan to raise the retirement age is unfair to Scots, according to Holyrood's new pensioners' rights minister.

Shona Robison said lower life expectancy in Scotland "short-changes" pensioners by thousands of pounds.

She said the pension age rise would be reviewed if Scotland voted for independence in September.

Pro-Union parties insisted pensions were more affordable as part of a UK-wide system that pooled resources.

State pensions are paid to men from 65 and women from 61, but the pension age is set to increase to 67 for all by 2028.

Office of National Statistics figures show that Scotland has the lowest life expectancy in the UK.

According to a pensions analysis produced by the Scottish government, a 65 year-old woman entitled to a total pension of £160 per week could expect to get around £11,000 less in Scotland than counterparts in the rest of the UK. The figure for men is £10,000.

The analysis states that for people from Glasgow, who have the lowest life expectancy in Scotland, this "pensions gap" is even bigger, at £29,000 for men and £22,000 for women.

Scots 'disadvantaged'

Ms Robison said these differences in life expectancy would be "compounded" by UK government plans to raise the retirement age to 67.

She added it would be "fairer" if this was postponed and has promised a review in the event of independence.

"It is right for Scotland to consider a state pension age relatively lower than the rest of the UK," she said.

"I am concerned about Westminster's accelerated timetable for increasing the state pension age to 67 as it so unfairly disadvantages Scots.

"People living in disadvantaged areas miss out even more - with men in Glasgow seeing £50,000 less over their lifetime than someone of the same age living in Harrow."

She added: "We want to make sure that the pension age suits Scottish circumstances - and, on average, people in Scotland have fewer years in retirement receiving the state pension because life expectancy is lower.

"Life expectancy is improving but progress will take time, and we don't want Scots to be disadvantaged in the meantime."

'Sharing costs'

However, Scottish Labour MP Gregg McClymont, the shadow UK pensions minister, insisted pensions were more affordable as part of the UK because resources could be pooled to share the costs of "Scotland's rapidly growing elderly population".

He said: "No amount of cooking the books can wish these facts away and the Scottish government should just be straight with people.

"For the nationalists to suggest the best way to be able to pay for pensions in Scotland is if we continue to die younger is frankly appalling."

He added: "The Scottish Parliament already has the power to improve the life expectancy of Scots, with control over health, education and local services.

"Maybe if Nicola Sturgeon focused more on the day job instead of spending all her time campaigning for separation things would improve."

Voters in the independence referendum, on 18 September, will answer the yes/no question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

Blair Jenkins, the chief executive of the pro-independence Yes Scotland campaign, said: "Older Scots know only too well the benefits of living in a society where we look out for one another and make sure people can lead comfortable lives in their later years. That hasn't been a top priority for any UK government in a very long time.

"In Scotland we value strong public services and decent homes, and the record of the Scottish Parliament is much better than Westminster in delivering on these priorities."

However, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said delaying increasing the pension age to 67 could cost an independent Scotland about £6bn in additional pensions costs between 2026-27 and 2035-36.

A DWP spokesman added: "The current Scottish government have still not said how they are going to pay for around £1.55bn a year social security costs over the next two decades.

"It needs to come clean about how it would fund these proposals - it is difficult to see how this support would be maintained without higher taxes or cuts to services."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 416.

    I don't suppose the extended retirement age of future generations has anything to do with the fact that NI only covers 25% of total pension payments and we have to borrow the rest - currently about 80 billon a year to cover the shortfall. Pension payments are a ponzi scheme financed by government borrowing and mortgaged on the backs of future generations.

  • Comment number 415.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 414.

    Why would Scots wish to continue to be governed by Westminster when they see everyone except those in London and the south east being treated like third class citizens.

    I'd much rather the Scots determine their own future - Scotland for the Scots. If there is a yes vote the English are free to leave Scotland if they wish.

    Oh dear have I made a xenophibic comment?

  • rate this

    Comment number 413.

    English anti-indpendence brigade: they hate the Scots purely because the have the gall to want to go independent. They want a vote, simply so that tell the Scots they don't want them in the Union.

    English pro-independence brigade: they are hurt like a lover scorned by the Scots for them wanting to leave and are not taking it well.

    Both are steeped in hate, and hence irrelevant to the debate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 412.

    401-it-s yerself

    You have not looked very hard have you? I know what you want .
    You want me to say look at EDL or BNP sites to prove in your tiny mind that the English are bigots. But one very high profile case was splashed all over the Main news channels a couple of years ago. I suppose you took no notice as it was in England

  • rate this

    Comment number 411.

    Ziggyboy they (the beeb) keep hoping for pro indy suporters to react to the trolls in a bad way, However its the other side that just end up looking bitter and twisted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 410.

    402 markr

    "Currency union can, and will work."

    What qualifies you to make that decision? And why should you, as a foreigner, decide on behalf of the UK who it should, or should not, enter currency union with? Typical arrogant SNP attitude, want to play a different game with their rules, and supply the referee.

  • rate this

    Comment number 409.

    Why do Yes campaigners remind me of Harry Enfield's Kevin the teenager?

    Maybe it's the incoherent arguments and temper tantrums.

    Well, if that's what you want governing your country then good luck. It really will be "Not Our Problem", and for once, you won't be able to blame England for your mess.

  • rate this

    Comment number 408.

    so despite all their efforts the only anti-english remark the press can find being made by an SNP member was by a student member

    as for the Salmonds 'cabinet are Lord Snootys' comment try watching "This Week" on BBC, hosted by a Scot, right enough, every week, repeated comments + sketches with English cast about the cabinet being bunch of toffs & Lord Snooty references are common

  • rate this

    Comment number 407.

    Oh dear, are the Scots being bullied again?

  • rate this

    Comment number 406.

    Suggestions please on a postcard for the next subject on which the Scots receive more xenophobic comments.

    Thanks BBC

  • rate this

    Comment number 405.

    The main reason why Scots MUST vote yes, is because the EU and (Labour) want to anexe Scotland and England into Britain. They released a map of EU without Scotland & England in it. Labour wanted to make new cross border authorities, lumping large parts of the north of England with Scotland. Do we believe that Scotland & England have nothing to contribute to the world as separate nations?

  • rate this

    Comment number 404.

    The Yes vote campaign is beginning to sound more and more like Kevin the teenager - 'It's so unfair!' They should be looking at the trend of lower life expectancy in Scotland and doing something about that. I wish they'd stop making England out to be full of moustache-twirling villains. A lot us do live outside the Westminister bubble you know - er, like most of the UK population...

  • Comment number 403.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 402.

    #392. Sam M

    'How is going into a currency union with another country to allow them to cintrol your finances self determination?'


    Currency union can, and will work. The reality is that SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE is just around the corner, and whether they like it or not, WESTMINSTER and HOLYROOD will negotiate to make the currency work, as they will TRIDENT, OIL & National debt.


  • rate this

    Comment number 401.

    394. LawfullRebellion69
    yes they have been documented and in some instances the actual asault has been filmed and placed on U tube where it can be clearly heard

    Hm, funny, I can't find anything.

  • rate this

    Comment number 400.

    388 GideonsBible - Indeed, damning evidence. Everybody knows if you say something often enough, it becomes true. I'm sure Lord McAlpine would have agreed.

    391 Patch Bruce - At least online, it is amazing how many anti-independence posters are also UKIPpers. I don't think I've ever seen a socialist argue against independence. Maybe they're just too embarrassed being on the same side as the Tories.

  • Comment number 399.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 398.

    That's cool tonep we don't need a few worn out tornadoes a few rusty ships and part of Gibraltar we can afford nice new american hardware that actually works.

  • rate this

    Comment number 397.


    You're being told that because you die earlier, that's a good reason for independence (not improvements to diet!)

    You're being told that those wanting independence still want Westminster to control your currency. How is that independence?

    The president of the EC said it might be “impossible” for Scotland to be in the EU

    You're smarter than the idiot politicians. Vote UNITY


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