During the independence referendum in 2014, we were told to vote No to protect our pensions (as well as our place in the EU).
State pensions are not devolved to the Scottish Government; they are controlled by Westminster. As deputy chief whip in the Liberal-Tory coalition at Westminster, Alistair Carmichael pushed through a vote to accelerate changes to women’s state pension age, causing great hardship to thousands of women born in the 1950s who, without adequate notice from the UK government, were given no time to plan to alleviate the difficulties these changes have caused them.
The UK pension is one of the worst in Europe and we are all having to wait longer to receive it: until we’re 66 for 1950s women, or until we’re 67 for those born in the 1960s. People under 30 years old will be 70 or possibly 75 before they draw their state pensions.
As a percentage of average earnings, the state pensions in Iceland, Denmark and the Netherlands are 76 per cent, 80 per cent and 101 per cent respectively: in the UK the state pension is 29 per cent of average earnings.
Do you think this system is fair? Can you imagine working until you are 75 years old, particularly builders, nurses, fire fighters and many other professions that are physically demanding? In an independent Scotland we would be in charge of our pensions.
At their last party conference the SNP voted to investigate means to increase the state pension in an independent Scotland to match the EU average – £355 per week.
The difference between the Scottish and UK governments is that Westminster continually looks for ways to avoid paying out, whereas Holyrood can be trusted to keep its social contract with people who have paid into the state pension their whole working lives.