Sep 122014

By Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford.

Eilidh Whiteford MP Peterhead Harbour (1)

It was back to London for me this week as the long Westminster recess came to an end. I was pleased to find it’s still warm and sunny there, even if Summer seems to have abandoned us here in the North-east. As well as parliament catching up on events that have developed over the break, we also passed the second reading of a pensions bill that will give those with occupational pensions more flexibility when they retire.

I’ve been talking a lot about pensions in recent weeks. As I’ve been out chapping doors ahead of the Referendum, I’ve been reassuring pensioners that their State Pensions will be paid on time and in full in the event of a Yes vote, administered from offices in Dundee and Motherwell, just as they are at the moment.

I’ve been reminding them that their entitlement is based on their contributions record – not where they choose to live. Many thousands of pensioners go off to live in Spain and France nowadays, but all receive their pensions, because they worked for it, and I welcome the confirmation from the UK Pensions Minister that state pensions are secure regardless of the outcome of the Referendum.

But in Scotland we can do better. We spend a lower proportion of our GDP on pensions than the rest of the UK, and life expectancy lags stubbornly behind the UK average. A Scottish pensioner retiring in 2016 will, on average, receive £10,000 less in pension over their lifetime than pensioners elsewhere in the UK.

That’s one reason why we need to tailor pensions to Scotland’s circumstances and look again at whether we really need to raise the pension age beyond 67, as the UK plans to do. Control of our economy would also give us the levers to address the longer term demographic challenges faced by all Western countries with low birthrates and aging populations.

Scotland’s relative economic strength means that we are better placed to ensure that our citizens enjoy a dignified retirement with a secure income in old age.

We can afford to do things differently, and a Yes vote in September will allow us to do just that.

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  7 Responses to “Pensions Safe With Yes”

  1. Eminent common sense I’d say

  2. This is one of the more ironic offerings from the SNP. Dr Whiteford suggests that Scotland is “better placed” to provide a dignified retirement and may, therefore, not have to raise the retirement age. Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon suggests an independent Scotland may not have to raise the retirement age because we die earlier!

    Vote Yes for a dignified but early death?

    • Well I recon I’d rather go with their version of events than that offered by “better together” – 57, 58, 65, 84, or maybe an invite to the euthanasia clinic at the good old, “three score years and ten.” That would certainly help the benefits bill reduction policy. Given the austerity problem has caused said bill to rise, not fall, has it been worthwhile causing such pain and grief to the poor and disabled in society?

      • Hi Ron,

        Whilst I certainly do not agree with many of the policies of the current UK Government, there has been no evidence presented to demonstrate how an independent Scotland, or quasi – independent Scotland in the event of currency union, will do any better.

        Empty rhetoric just doesn’t do it for me!

  3. Hi again Bruce. Empty rhetoric? That would be the statements made by most senior economists to the effect that Scotland was perfectly capable of being a successful independent country. Perhaps the rating agencies got it wrong to in their statement that Scotland would be afforded the highest rating (something Westminster lost). You are a one Bruce. 🙂

    • I think you will find that the one singular comment, to which you refer, was qualified by a number of caveats including currency and EU membership but I have yet to hear anything of substance to clarify how we would fund our public services. Perhaps you can do that for us?

      As an aside Ron, I accept that no one knows what the future might hold for us, independent or otherwise, and I fully accept that my scepticism may be completely misplaced. Nevertheless, nothing I have said is factually incorrect, unreasonable or anything less than widely shared by knowledgable commentators. You, on the other hand, appear to be possessed of an absolute certainty and, given your parting comment, appear to be showing a degree of frustration that others do not share this absolute certainty.

      • Every argument/discussion has two sides Bruce. You are quite entitled to your opinions, as am I. There are many “experts” in this world and many have been proven wrong – on both sides of any argument.

        This referendum s about self determination. Don’t you agree every nation state should have that privilege? Scotland has long been a nation state, one which, because of the error of judgement by a few wealthy individuals, opted to join with another. The new “conglomerate” has, in the eyes of many of us, made a number of errors of judgement. Had Margaret Thatcher opted to follow the example of Norway, what a different and inclusive nation we would have now. Had Gordon Brown (ably assisted by his Tory friends) not allowed such lassitude in banking sector, we would not be in the parlous state we find ourselves in. Those are the reasons many Scots want change, with control moving from a failed Westminster system to one closer to home, managed by those best placed to do so – those resident in Scotland.

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