Scottish Government
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Independence pensions promise

Stronger safeguards to protect pensioners.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Finance Secretary John Swinney today pledged that all pensions in an independent Scotland will be paid on time and in full and that pensioners in Scotland will benefit from stronger safeguards, as they published a paper outlining pensions policy.

The comprehensive Scottish Government paper – Pensions in an Independent Scotland – details the arrangements for state, private and public sector pensions that will follow a vote for independence.

The document confirms that an independent Scotland will take the UK state pension system as the foundation for the Scottish state pension, building on the current system to offer better protection to people across the country.

The paper confirms that:

  • The Basic State Pension (BSP) will continue to be paid as now, on time and in full. Based on the current rate of £110.15 per week, the value of the BSP is expected to be at least £118.60 in 2016/17.
  • The value of the state pension will be protected by the triple lock, ensuring that it keeps pace with earnings and rising costs - a commitment that will be initially for the first term of an independent parliament.
  • The Scottish single-tier pension will be introduced for new pensioners from 2016 and set at £160 per week.
  • To help lower income pensioners, the savings credit element of pension credit will be retained.
  • Safeguards will be put in place for those, mainly women, who are expecting to receive a state pension based on their spouse’s contributions.

The Deputy First Minister also announced that in the first year of an independent Scotland, an expert commission will be established to consider the appropriate level of the State Pension Age for Scotland.

In particular, the Scottish Government is not persuaded of the UK Government’s timetable to increase SPA to 67 between 2026 and 2028.

Ms Sturgeon said:

“Scotland is a wealthy and productive country with strong financial foundations. We can more than afford a decent pensions system that guarantees dignity for our older people.

“Successive UK government decisions have resulted in a pensions crisis. Independence will bring decision-making on pensions home to the Scottish Parliament and provide the opportunity to do things differently and better.

“As this comprehensive paper makes clear, we will build on the current system and make improvements where necessary.

“We are giving an absolute guarantee to those living in Scotland, in receipt of the UK State Pension at the time of independence, that their pensions will continue to be paid in full and on time, as now.

“We will also take steps to protect lower income pensioners by ensuring that pensions hold their value against prices and earnings, and by retaining savings credit.

“For those approaching retirement, the paper provides clarity about their future state pension terms and sets out how they would be better off with independence.

“We will also establish an expert commission to review the current, accelerated UK timetable for the State Pension Age and consider the appropriate pace of change to the retirement age beyond 66, taking full account of Scottish circumstances."

In setting out proposals for public and private sector pensions the paper states that;

  • The approach to negotiations about any future changes to public sector pensions will be positive and inclusive, rather than confrontational
  • An independent Scottish Government could consider the pension terms of 'uniformed’ services along with the impact of the pension age policy on retirement patterns of public sector workers
  • An independent Scotland would pursue a range of policies to encourage saving for retirement
  • To provide reassurance an independent Scotland will properly protect and monitor pensions through a Scottish Pensions Regulator.

Mr Swinney said:

“Independence will allow us to harness the considerable expertise that exists in the pensions industry in Scotland to help us deliver a pensions system that incentivises saving for retirement, provides encouragement where it is needed and protects people’s private pension savings.

“With independence we will be able to replace the confrontational approach of the UK Government toward public sector pensions with an inclusive approach

“The payment of benefits accrued in people’s private pensions will be not be affected by a change in constitutional arrangements. The paper outlines our plans to help people save for a better retirement, by continuing with the roll-out of automatic enrolment and establishing our own Scottish Employment Savings Trust.

“We will establish our own Pensions Regulator which will work closely with the UK Pensions Regulator and the Financial Conduct Authority to maintain a pan-UK approach to the regulation of private pensions.”

“And we will ensure that people have the same level of protection as they currently receive from the Pension Protection Fund and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.”

Notes to editors

The Scottish Government paper – Pensions in an Independent Scotland – is available at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2013/09/3492

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