The SNP have suggested that plans to raise the pension age would be put off in an independent Scotland. The Scots die earlier – two and half years, on average – and the calculations don’t look the same for as they do for England.
That has to be right in principle, but it poses a practical problem. Currently the State Pension is geared to a person’s work history, and the records are held in England. To administer the pensions in line with existing entitlements, the Scottish Government would need to have access to those records. There’s no obvious practical way of doing this, short of an individual request for details of each and every person by National Insurance number. The pension would not be paid by the English authority, so the record would then have to be transmitted back to Scotland for processing and payment.
If there was instead a Citizens Pension, based on age, the records wouldn’t matter, and the provision of pensions could start from scratch. That is only going to be politically feasible if the scheme is more generous than existing entitlements. The UK government’s recent reform of pensions has gone some way towards establishing the new criteria, and it would only take a few small tweaks for it to be possible.