Pensions secure after Yes vote admits UK Govt Minister

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  The SNP is today welcoming confirmation from a UK Government Minister that current state pensions will be secure following a Yes vote.
 
The admission from Minister of State for Pensions Steve Webb followed an appearance in front of the Scottish Affairs Committee, where the MP said people could be “assured” a Yes vote would not put their pensions in jeopardy.

Asked by Labour MP Ian Davidson if, following independence, “people themselves could be assured that their pensions are secure” Mr Webb replied “Yes”.

He said: “You don’t have to be a UK citizen to get a UK pension.  So we will obviously, for the people who have put national insurance into our system, we would pay them a pension wherever they lived so separation wouldn’t affect that… You could retire to France and we’d just pay you a pension, so where you end up isn’t material, because you’ve paid into the system.”

The admission is a significant blow to the anti-independence campaign which has claimed pensions would be placed at risk in an independent Scotland.  In March Treasury Chief Danny Alexander claimed independence would put pensions at risk.

Speaking in 2013, Better Together head Alistair Darling said of the cost of pensions: “Carrying this cost is a bigger problem for Scotland than for the rest of the UK because of the age structure of our population.  Within the Union, however, that risk is pooled with the whole country, and will not have to be borne purely out of Scottish resources.”

Today’s admission confirms an earlier official statement issued on behalf of the The UK’s Department for Work and Pensions that UK pensions will continue to be paid in full, even if Scotland becomes independent.

Responding to a question, an official at the DWP wrote: “If Scotland does become independent, this will have no effect on your state pension – you will continue to receive it just as you do at present.”

Commenting, SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson said:

“The confirmation from a UK Government Minister that pensions will be secure in the event of a Yes vote puts an end to No camp scaremongering on the issue once and for all. The DWP has already confirmed in writing that independence will have ‘no effect on your state pension’ – and Mr Webb has now made Westminster’s position crystal clear.

“The No campaign should now pulp the fiction on their latest billboards and posters which scaremonger on pensions which – by the UK government and DWP’s admission – is totally misleading.”

The MSP described the admission by the UK minister that pensions would be safe as the latest scare to “crumble to dust”.

Slamming the Better Together campaign, he added: “…their bluff and bluster on currency was called out earlier this year when a UK Government Minister admitted ‘of course there would be a currency union’, while other scares on everything from mobile phone charges to Lord Robertson’s ‘cataclysmic’ claims that ‘forces of darkness’ would be boosted in the event of a Yes vote have been laughable.

“The No camp’s credibility on pensions is now beyond repair as their attempts to scare pensioners into voting for the status quo have now been laid bare for all to see. It is time for No to set the record straight and admit that in an independent Scotland, pensions will be paid on time and in full.”