By a Newsnet reporter
The Westminster Government has come under fire after refusing to reveal its plans for pensions after the independence referendum.
Despite a letter from Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon asking for confirmation on what level the new single tier state pension will be set at in 2016, the coalition has refused to confirm an exact figure.
The Scottish Government has already said that new pensioners in an independent Scotland can expect to receive £160 per week on the single tier pension from 2016. However, despite this pledge from the SNP, Westminster has thus far refused to confirm what the UK rate will be.
In his response to a letter from the Deputy First Minister asking what the start rate of the UK pension will be, Junior Scottish Office minister David Mundell would say only that it would be “above the standard minimum guarantee in Pension Credit…”
The Conservative MP added: “It would be premature to confirm the start rate for the new State Pension before the level of the standard minimum guarantee is set for 2016/17, which will depend on factors that will not be known until the autumn of 2015.”
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“With independence, new pensioners receiving the Single Tier Pension will get £160 per week. But while the Scottish Government has confirmed this rate, the Westminster government is refusing to come clean on how much the Single Tier Pension will be in 2016.
“Looking at what the UK Government has said, we estimate that new pensioners in Scotland will be around £5 per week – or £260 a year – better off than they would be as part of the UK.”
By setting the new single tier pension rate slightly above the minimum guarantee – currently set at £148.35 per week – it is estimated that the UK single tier pension rate will be around £155 per week in 2016. This means that Scottish Government plans to make pensions fairer in an independent Scotland will see pensioners benefit by around £5 a week – or £260 a year.
The Scottish Government is also committed to introducing a pensions triple lock with independence, which means that pensions will increase either by inflation, earnings or 2.5 per cent – whichever is highest.
Ms Sturgeon added: “With the full powers of independence we can also introduce a triple lock on the state pension to keep pace with the cost of living. And we can establish a state pension age that meets Scotland’s needs – with an immediate review of Westminster’s plans to increase the retirement age to 67.
“Scotland has paid more tax per head than the rest of the UK for each and every one of the last 30 years – and spending on pensions is more affordable for Scotland. Figures show that 38 per cent of Scottish tax revenues are spent on social protection, including pensions, compared to 42 per cent for the UK as a whole.
“The Westminster parties cannot get away with hiding the truth from Scotland’s older people. They must come clean about how much our new pensioners stand to lose as part of the UK.
“Only independence will deliver the powers we need to bring about a fairer deal for our pensioner and ensure we have a pension system that is right for Scotland.”