Friday, 29 August 2014

Revealed: impact of UK pension reforms

A question posed by Cunninghame North MSP Kenneth Gibson has revealed the shocking impact UK Government changes to pension entitlement could have on Scots if we remain part of the British Union.

During First Minister’s Questions in the Scottish Parliament, Mr Gibson asked Alex Salmond, “What will be the impact on Scotland of United Kingdom Government plans to raise the retirement age?”

The First Minister replied, “Analysis shows that a 65-year-old can expect the lifetime value of their state pension to be around £11,000 less for women and £10,000 less for men in Scotland than the average for the UK as a whole.  What is more, the UK has based its plans to increase the state pension age on increasing life expectancy, but the reality is that Scottish life expectancy is currently the lowest of all the UK countries.  That looks to us like a policy that is made in London without consideration of fairness in Scotland.”

Kenneth Gibson then referred to “the admission by UK Pensions Minister Steve Webb MP that state pensions will be secure” if Scotland votes for independence next month.  The SNP MSP asked the First Minister, “Given that Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Rachel Reeves MP, announced that Labour would support the Tory-Lib Dem UK Government pension reforms, does the First Minister agree that the only way to develop a pension regime that is appropriate to Scotland’s circumstances is to vote ‘YES’ in September’s referendum?”

Responding, Alex Salmond said, “I do agree with that.  In drawing attention to the comments of Steve Webb before a Westminster committee, Kenneth Gibson draws attention to an important point, which is that the ‘No’ campaign has spent a good amount of time trying to tell people in Scotland that their pensions would not be safe in an independent Scotland.  Now the UK Pensions Secretary, Steve Webb MP, has admitted that is not the case.

“We are entitled to ask when the Better Together – Labour/Tory - leaflets that allege something that is clearly not true are going to be withdrawn, and whether the Liberal Democrats - Steve Webb is a Liberal Democrat member of Parliament - will insist that their Better Together colleagues stop trying to peddle myths and scaremonger to the people of Scotland.”

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