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Pensions dispute in independence debate

Former prime minister Gordon Brown has made a pro-union speech ahead of the forthcoming Scottish independence referendum, due to be held in September of this year, in which he stressed the importance of the union for Scottish pensions.

Keeping British pensions was the first (of five) ‘big positives’ the former Labour leader listed that Scotland gained from being in the union.

Brown asserted that Scotland’s future ought to include a partnership for pensioners, and stated that the partnership for pensioners today is worth £425m extra for Scotland.

The £425m figure is the difference between what Scotland receives today, and what it would receive on an ordinary population-weighted allocation.

He went on to say that the sum was set to rise to £700m over the course of the next two decades, as costs are pooled and shared across the UK and the number of Scottish pensioners rises from 1.1 million to 1.3 million.

Brown added that a further advantage of the union was the UK underwriting Scottish public sector pension liabilities to the tune of £100bn, which also prevents the need for an extra £1bn of spending on a separate Scottish social security system.

In response to the speech, Dr Eilidh Whiteford, the SNP Work and Pensions spokesman, described Brown’s claims as ludicrous.

Dr Whiteford asserted that pensions in Scotland were more affordable than in the rest of the UK, and that demographic change in Scotland was no more challenging than elsewhere in the country, citing the the National Institute of Economic and Social Research which she said supported the SNP’s perspective.

She went on to say that insurance providers such as HSBC, as well as the Department of Work and Pensions itself, believe that pensions would be unaffected in the event of a Yes vote.

She asserted that independence would ensure Scotland could deliver a fair deal for pensioners.

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