Scottish independence: Swinney says pensions 'would be stronger'

Purse with money in it The future of pensions in an independent Scotland was the focus of the ICAS conference

Senior citizens would have stronger pension safeguards than the UK if Scotland became independent, the finance secretary has claimed.

John Swinney told a gathering in Glasgow that Scottish pensions would be fully protected after independence.

He said a single-tier state pension from 2016 would be uprated by whatever is higher - earnings growth, inflation or 2.5%.

Opposition parties questioned how Scotland would pay for pensions.

Mr Swinney was speaking on the issue during the Institute of Chartered Accountants Scotland Pensions Conference.

'Triple lock'

The finance minister said the "triple lock" plan compared with a UK guarantee which is currently only set on a rise by earnings.

He said: "The Scottish government has made clear that pensions will be fully protected in an independent Scotland.

"Independence will give us the opportunity to ensure that future improvements to the provision and regulation of pensions of Scots are made by a parliament which is fully accountable to the people of Scotland.

Start Quote

This cobbled together announcement does not even contain any sums never mind the workings of how the SNP would pay a separate Scotland's pension bill”

End Quote Gavin Brown Scottish Conservative's finance spokesman

"Whilst decisions about future levels of these benefits will be determined by future Scottish governments, we are announcing today that we would uprate both the existing Basic State Pension and the new single-tier pension using the triple lock, ensuring peace of mind for current and future pensioners."

The finance secretary claimed there would be a seamless transition for state pensions following a vote for independence.

Voters go to the polls on 18 September next year when they will be asked a single yes/no question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

However, Labour's Gregg McClymont said he was "astonished" Mr Swinney had "refused to level" with Scots about the future of their pensions.

He said: "Scotland was already facing a pensions timebomb as the number of elderly rocketed compared to the rest of the UK.

"Now the SNP, to cover the fact they can't answer key questions about the implications of separation for our pensions, has put another huge black hole in Scotland's future."

'Serious questions'

The Institute of Chartered Accountants Scotland (ICAS) published a report last month titled Scotland's Pensions Future: What pensions arrangements would Scotland need? in which it suggested there could be "major cost and cash flow implications for employers" with deficits required to be paid off on the day of independence.

Scottish Conservative finance spokesman Gavin Brown said: "This is a desperate move by the Scottish government to salvage some kind of credibility on a key issue of independence.

"However, this cobbled together announcement does not even contain any sums never mind the workings of how the SNP would pay a separate Scotland's pension bill, which currently costs more than £6bn a year."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: "Instead of promising everything and costing nothing they should answer the serious questions posed by ICAS about the security of pensions after independence."

The Scottish government is due to publish a paper in the near future on pension provision in an independent Scotland.

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    John, Wishaw: Just shows you ignorance of some people. Teachers in Catholic schools don't need to be of Catholic faith. My son's teacher wasn't a Catholic.

    Anon: When I attended a Catholic school 40 years ago we had many Protestant teachers. It's nonsense to claim otherwise.

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    Text using 80295 Anti-Irish bigtory - Your views

    Anon: There are bigots in every walk of life but to brand a nation as bigoted as the result of the actions of a few is wrong. I work in Scotland, England and Ireland and have never heard any such comments. I would also have no issue in confronting anyone who behaved in this manner in my company.

    John: Not sure about anti-Irish bigotry but there are certainly plenty of west of Scotland Scots who were born raised, and living here but who appear to want to identify themselves as being Irish.

    Anon: Sectarianism works both ways: a Protestant cannot teach in a Catholic school.

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    Text using 80295 Anti-Irish bigotry - Your views

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    Paula, very annoyed in Glasgow: Once again a debate about racism is hijacked by mostly white people to discuss sectarianism and now anti-Irish bigotry. For once could we please discuss racism as it affects those of us who are Black, Asian, Chinese, etc? We are visually different and face overt & subtle racism on a daily basis but in Scotland it's assumed racism isn't an issue because of sectarianism. It's ridiculous!

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    Text using 80295 Super ID database - Your views

    Gordon, Shetland: Hi, this database in my view is hypocritical as HMRC have access to it, presumably to track down tax avoiders. It's not that long ago this government excused poll tax avoiders because they were tracked down when registering to vote in the Referendum.

    09:41: The beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning?

    The struggle for control of Rangers turned into an epic saga, but battle weariness won't be allowed to accompany the incoming directors through the front doors at Ibrox.

    Richard Gough, Paul Murray, Dave King and John Gilligan

    Dave King, Paul Murray and John Gilligan face a rebuilding challenge that makes the fight to enter the boardroom seem like merely setting up base camp at the foot of Everest.

    Text using 80295 Super ID database - Get involved

    Anon: To Mike: "only people with nothing to hide" is a ridiculous statement. I'm a member of the SNP who is against the use of our details by any government body without consent. This argument isn't by someone who wants to hide; it's made by someone who cares about the government diminishing our civil liberties.

    09:29: Fred Goodwin's office put to new use

    The grand office built for Fred Goodwin when he was chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland is being turned over to 80 entrepreneurs.

    Fred Goodwin

    RBS announced that the "executive wing" at its Gogarburn headquarters in west Edinburgh was to be occupied by those setting up in business.

    The centre will house staff from business organisations such as Entrepreneurial Spark.

    It will be home to its "business accelerator hub".

    09:25: Blaze at historic mansion

    A blaze has damaged part of an historic mansion on the outskirts of Dumfries.


    The flames engulfed an annex of the derelict Carnsalloch House at about 23:00 on Tuesday.

    Three fire appliances were deployed to the scene, with water drawn from the nearby River Nith used to douse the flames.

    There are no details at the moment on the cause of the incident at the 18th Century building.

    Text using 80295 Super ID database - Your views

    Mike: Only people with something to hide don't want to be on a UK database. Such as the ex non payers of the council tax.

    09:10: 'We've obviously got issues'

    Aberdeen City Council is expected to confirm that it is quitting the local government body Cosla to join a new rival group.

    Jenny Laing, leader of the city council, told BBC Scotland that Aberdeen's voice "wasn't being heard within Cosla".

    "We've obviously got issues around our funding settlement, having been the lowest funded council in Scotland for some time," she said.

    "It is important for us, and me as a council leader, that we are getting that message across to Scottish government.

    "We don't feel we can do that through Cosla and we are looking for other ways in which we can."

    09:05: Flying the flag

    A Berwickshire councillor has asked whether flags other than the Saltire can be flown on the Scottish side of the border with England.

    Scottish and English flag

    Michael Cook has made the inquiry regarding provision at Lamberton on the boundary between the Scottish Borders and Northumberland.

    He said three Saltires currently fly on the Scottish side.

    Mr Cook asked whether a county flag of Berwickshire or the union jack could also be flown north of the border.

    @BBCRadioScot Coming up...

    Today on #MorningCall: Would you welcome more organisations having access to your personal data? Call 0500 92 95 00.

    Morning Call

    Listen live to the programme here.

    08:48: What's on the back pages?

    The Rangers extraordinary general meeting will go ahead despite shareholder Dave King claiming a "landslide" victory in his bid to get rid of the current board, reports The Scotsman.

    Scott Allan

    Former Motherwell and Rangers defender Craig Paterson has urged Scotland manager Gordon Strachan to give Hibernian's Scott Allan a call-up.

    And Celtic will offer goalkeeper Craig Gordon a new long-term deal to fend off interest from English clubs.

    Text using 80295 Council shake-up - Your views

    Gordie, Glenrothes: With councils leaving Cosla, the councils no longer overseeing a local police service, social work moving from councils to integrate with health and financial challenges, the Scottish government will now have the confidence to reduce the number of councils in Scotland! We don't need 32, with 32 chief executives, directors of education, directors of housing etc.

    08:31: Tourism centre closed

    A trend towards tourists accessing information online has been cited as a reason behind plans to shut a south of Scotland visitor centre.

    Tourism office

    Dumfries and Galloway councillors are being asked to agree to close a face-to-face service in Newton Stewart.

    It comes after usage figures showed a 66% drop in footfall over the past five years.

    A 12-month pilot of providing visitor information at another site in the town is being proposed.

    08:20: Fan ownership Alasdair Lamont BBC Scotland

    Fan representation in Scottish football has been in the news a lot recently, with the Rangers Supporters Trust and Rangers First building their shareholding at Ibrox.

    Ian Murray

    Often, fan ownership comes about from a crisis situation at a club, such as has happened with Rangers and Hearts.

    08:12: Read all about it

    There are taxing issues on the front of a number of Scottish newspapers on Wednesday.

    The Scotsman says that Nicola Sturgeon has ditched the SNP government's flagship pledge to slash big business taxes in Scotland.

    Wednesday's front pages

    As the first minister unveiled her economic vision for Scotland, she revealed a change in stance on corporation tax, focusing on "targeted changes in tax allowances" rather than a "blanket approach".

    The Herald says that UK chancellor George Osborne has come under intense pressure from business chiefs to reverse in full his controversial tax grab on the embattled North Sea oil and gas industry.

    Read the rest of our newspaper round-up here.

    08:04: Goulding to perform at Glasgow festival

    Ellie Goulding will perform at the Glasgow Summer Sessions festival later this year.

    Ellie Goulding

    Goulding, who is currently top of the charts with her song Love Me Like You Do, will support headliner Calvin Harris and will take to the stage in Bellahouston Park on Sunday, 30 August.

    John Newman, Disciples and Burns will also perform.

    Tickets go on sale this Friday.

    08:02: Swinney defends database plans

    Deputy First Minister John Swinney, in response to concerns over plans for a super database, told Good Morning Scotland that the proposal is "not a new database".

    John Swinney

    He added: "The database that is proposed to be used under this system is the NHS National Register, which has existed since the 1950s.

    "What we are trying to do is make it possible and practical for members of the public to access public services online, and being able to do that safely and securely.

    "Public bodies will not be able to interrogate some database, they will not be able to look through peoples' records. It is a verification and matching system to make sure we are delivering public services online to individuals who require and are entitled to those services."

    07:55: High note for Calvin Harris fans

    Calvin Harris has been announced as the first headline act for Glasgow's Summer Sessions.

    The Scots DJ will take to the stage at Bellhouston Park on 30 August.

    Calvin Harris

    Summer Sessions is Scotland's only annual outdoor city music festival.

    Last year, The Killers, and DJs David Guetta and Steve Angello performed to more than 100,000 people at Bellahouston across three dates. Tickets for the 2015 event go on sale on Friday.

    07:50: 'Stick to talking to Cosla'

    With news that four councils are leaving the local government umbrella group Cosla, to join a rival body, Professor Richard Kerley, chair of the Centre for Scottish Public Policy, predicts an "unpredictable future".

    "This has gone on for some considerable time," he told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland.

    "It seems to me that some of their (the four councils) arguments for being very important are not really material to what the Scottish government is going to want to know, which is: which representative organisation do we discuss local government matters with?

    Council gritter

    "I assume, at the moment, they will stick to talking to Cosla, which will continue to represent 28 councils.

    "Aberdeen has for many years now argued that it receives a lesser amount of financial support from the Scottish government than it is due to than other councils do.

    "The objective criteria used to determine most of that distribution don't favour Aberdeen. It has pockets of poverty, that's undeniable, there are people living in Aberdeen who are struggling.

    "But, by and large, it's a very prosperous area; [it has] little in common with Glasgow, Renfrewshire and to a certain extent South Lanarkshire."

    Cosla insists the move is not the end for the umbrella group and that the four councils will be welcome back any time.

    07:44: 'Creeping' towards identity cards

    Plans for a new identity database are to be debated by MSPs later amid civil liberty concerns.

    Willie Rennie

    Under the proposals more than 100 public bodies, including HMRC, would be able to access adults' private data on the NHS Central Register (NHSCR).

    One of the politicians opposed to the scheme is the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie.

    The MSP told Good Morning Scotland: "The main concern is the creeping nature towards a single number - a universal database - right across the public sector. It is one small step away from creating an identity card.

    "I know the Scottish government say they are against identity cards, but these are identity cards in all but name."

    07:38: Play to champion disabled acting

    A play featuring a number of disabled actors is set to take to the stage in Dundee.

    Thousands of pounds has been spent improving disabled access at the city's Rep Theatre for the new production of Blood Wedding.

    Dundee play rehearsal

    The cast includes deaf actors and wheelchair users, and is backed by the Graeae Theatre Company, which promotes the work of disabled thespians.

    Blood Wedding runs at the Dundee Rep until 14 March.

    07:30: Man arrested over bus sex attacks

    A 36-year-old man has been arrested in connection with alleged sexual assaults in the city centre of Glasgow.

    It comes after police released images of a man they were keen to trace in relation to a series of incidents on buses in the city.

    Three women were allegedly assaulted between 19 and 27 November last year.

    07:28: SSE donation 'window dressing'

    An organisation campaigning for cheaper electricity charges for people living on the Western isles has criticised a £40,000 donation from SSE to a charity.

    light bulb

    The money will be used by Energy Action Scotland to raise awareness of the help available to people struggling to pay their household fuel bills.

    Describing the money as "window dressing", Western Isles Poverty Action Group said SSE could afford to do more.

    SSE said the donation was aimed at helping its most vulnerable customers.

    @BBCScotWeather Ice risk BBC Scotland Weather Latest

    Take care this morning, folks - widespread risk of ice.

    Ice warning
    07:22: Forth Bridge birthday

    On its 125th birthday, we have published a selection of your best pictures of the Forth Bridge.

    Forth Bridge

    The cantilever railway bridge which spans the Firth of Forth from nine miles (14 km) west of Edinburgh city centre to North Queensferry in Fife, is one of Scotland's most famous landmarks.

    A fly-past by a Spitfire and an RAF Typhoon will mark the 125th anniversary at 13.25 GMT.

    07:14: Transparency call over principals' pay

    The University and College Union (UCU) Scotland claims Scottish universities have broken promises made on transparency over principals' pay.

    university principal

    It says over two-thirds of universities refused to provide full minutes of the committee meetings where pay was set.

    The union is urging the Scottish government to intervene.

    Universities Scotland says remuneration committees' policies were set by the universities' governing bodies, which included staff and students.

    @BBCTravelScot Rail delays BBC Scotland Travel Latest


    • speed restriction between High Street and Glasgow Queen Street - 10 min delays - all day
    • 07:23 Elgin/Inverness cancelled
    • 07:36 Carstairs/Dalmuir cancelled
    • replacement buses to Glasgow Central, one to stations, one direct.
    07:08: Councils plan to leave Cosla

    Confirmation is expected later from Aberdeen Council that it is leaving Cosla, the local government umbrella group, to join a rival body.

    The Labour-led council is expected to form a new negotiating group with three other Labour councils: Glasgow, Renfrewshire and South Lanarkshire.

    Successive administrations at Aberdeen have expressed dissatisfaction over their relations with Cosla.

    It says the four councils will be welcome back at any time.

    07:06: Dungavel detentions Calum McKay BBC Scotland

    Dozens of asylum seekers have been held at Dungavel immigration removal centre (IRC) in South Lanarkshire for months, figures released to BBC Scotland reveal.

    Dungavel, near Strathaven in South Lanarkshire, opened in 2001

    In some cases detainees were held for more than a year.

    The figures come as MPs have called for a limit on the time someone can be detained under immigration powers.

    The Home Office said it only detains people for the shortest period necessary.

    @BBCScotWeather Ice warning BBC Scotland Weather Latest

    Good morning! Gillian, here. Watch out for ice this morning. Still a scattering of showers during am, mostly dry with sunshine by afternoon. 6-8C.

    07:01: Super ID database

    Plans for a new identity database are to be debated by MSPs amid civil liberty concerns.

    identity database

    Under the proposals more than 100 public bodies, including HMRC, would be able to access adults' private data on the NHS Central Register (NHSCR).

    Opposition parties argue the move amounts to identity cards by the "back door".

    A consultation on the issue closed last week and the Scottish government has promised to "listen to all concerns".

    07:00: Here we go... Thomas McGuigan BBC Scotland News

    Good morning and a warm welcome to Wednesday's Scotland Live.

    News, sport, travel and weather between now and 19:00, with a sprinkling of your views on the day's events...



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