Monday 15th September 2014
In last week’s column, I took the opportunity to remind people of those things we have achieved as being part of the United Kingdom.
One such achievement was the creation of the state pension which gives vital support to people in their later life.
The future of the state pension has been the most common issue raised with me on the doorsteps ahead of the Referendum on Thursday.
Perhaps this is no surprise, when you consider that there are 16,000 pensioners here in Inverclyde who received over £550 million in pension payments between 2007/8 and 2012/13.
What will happen to the state pension if Scotland separates from the UK? Will it be secure? How will it be funded? These are just some of the questions that have been asked.
But it’s not just here in Inverclyde that these concerns are being raised. A recent poll found the vast majority of Scotland’s pensioners are worried about the risk to their state pension if we leave the UK.
People are right to be concerned. Indeed, last year Finance Secretary John Swinney privately raised concerns with his cabinet colleagues about the affordability of state pensions in an Independent Scotland.
And when you consider that last year alone, Scotland received state pension payments of £6.78billion, it’s understandable why people are questioning how a population of five million would fund this, when there are so many other costs that would need to be covered in an Independent Scotland, including our public services such as the NHS.
With Scotland’s population ageing faster than the rest of the UK, the best way of ensuring our pensioners are supported is by spreading those increasing costs across 60 million people in the UK.
This is just one issue, out of many, which highlight the importance of sticking together.