I was asked by the BBC to comment on a poster produced for the independence debate, which suggests that pensions may be under threat. My contribution is on the BBC website, here. Basically, there are three types of provision for pensioners to consider – the state pension, occupational pensions, and further benefits, many of which are under threat anyway. Reorganising occupational pensions might be a nuisance (they’d probably have to be split into English and Scottish schemes to comply with European regulations) but I don’t think there’s a serious risk in any of these categories.
The constraints of the article meant that an interesting aside had to be dropped, but having a blog allows me the indulgence of dropping it in here anyway. This is the question of what happens to upratings for people who get a pension from the UK but later go to live in Scotland. The UK government has long refused to uprate benefits for pensioners who live in some other countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa and some others such as Nigeria or Yemen; there’s a detailed report here. They argue that the UK does not have a legal agreement to pay upratings in these countries. However, they do pay upratings in the European Union, Turkey and the USA. Steve Webb, the Pensions Minister, has told a Holyrood committee that there shouldn’t be a problem – and it would be astonishing if the UK government imposed rules for Scotland that treated English pensioners in Scotland worse than Turkey or Israel.