We have identified over 650 questions and answers concerning many of the topics featured on this site. The information is categorised and can be reached by navigating via the entries below.

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Can an independent Scotland afford the State Pension?

Yes. Scotland is in a strong position to afford a high quality pensions system. Scotland is already better able to afford the current levels of social protection spending (which includes pensions) than the UK as a whole, on the basis of government revenue and share of GDP:

  • expenditure on social protection as a share of GDP has been lower in Scotland than in the UK in each of the past five years – in 2011/12, social protection expenditure accounted for 14.4 per cent of GDP in Scotland and 15.9 per cent in the UK

  • a smaller percentage of Scotland’s tax revenues are spent on social protection compared to the UK. Figures from 2011/12 show that 38 per cent of Scottish tax revenues were spent on social protection, compared with 42 per cent for the UK

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How would an independent Scotland manage State Pension responsibilities with an ageing population?

All western countries need to take account of ageing populations, which brings with it pension affordability issues. Addressing these issues in Scotland requires targeted action to improve growth, boost productivity, and in particular, to increase the working-age population as a share of overall population. An independent Scottish Government would be best placed to take such targeted action to meet Scotland’s specific circumstances.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What will happen to my existing State Pension in an independent Scotland?

Under our proposals, pensions will continue to be paid in full and on time, as now. The current Scottish Government intends that with independence, Scotland will keep the best of the existing State Pensions system, making genuine improvements where necessary. Our approach if in government under independence will be as follows:

  • the Basic State Pension will be increased each year by the ‘triple-lock’ – average earnings, inflation, or 2.5 per cent – whichever of these is the highest. This protection will stay in place for at least the first term of an independent Scottish Parliament. Westminster has only committed to keeping the triple-lock until 2015.

  • Guarantee Credit, which provides pensioners with a minimum income guarantee will also be increased by the triple-lock, initially for the first term of an independent parliament. This provides extra protection for low-income pensioners in Scotland, compared to the rest of the UK.

  • Savings Credit will be retained for existing pensioners on low incomes as in the UK.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

I’ll be retiring after 2016. What will happen to my pension on independence?

All accrued pension rights will be protected when Scotland becomes independent. People reaching State Pension Age from 6 April 2016 will move to a new single-tier pension. This is being introduced across the UK countries. In addition, this Scottish Government proposes that in Scotland pensioners should benefit under independence from additional protection as follows:

  • the single-tier pension will be set at £160 per week. If the rate for the single-tier pension is higher in the rest of the UK at that point, the Scottish single-tier pension will match this figure

  • for the whole of the first term of an independent Scottish Parliament, the single-tier pension will be increased each year by the ‘triple-lock’ – that is the highest of average earnings, inflation, or 2.5 per cent. This guarantee is only in place in the rest of the UK until 2015. Guarantee Credit, which provides a minimum level of pension income, will also be increased by the triple-lock

  • in addition, Scottish single-tier pensioners on low incomes will still be able to benefit from Savings Credit, which is being abolished for new pensioners from 2016 in the rest of the UK

  • provision will also be maintained for those expecting to receive a State Pension based on their spouse’s contributions. This protection would be in place for 15 years after the introduction of the single-tier pension, unlike in the rest of the UK

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will pension rights already accrued be protected in an independent Scotland?

Yes. Accrued pension rights will be protected in an independent Scotland. Our plans are as follows:

  • for those people living and working in Scotland at the time of independence, the UK pension entitlement they have accrued prior to independence will become their Scottish State Pension entitlement

  • any pension entitlement accrued in Scotland after independence will also form part of that Scottish State Pension

  • on retirement, the Scottish State Pension will be paid by the Scottish Government

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

I’ve worked most of my life in England and have only moved to Scotland recently to retire. Does that affect who will pay my pension and how much I will get?

No, it will not affect how much you will get. If you are in receipt of a UK State Pension on independence and you are resident in Scotland, the responsibility for paying that pension and all associated payments will transfer to the Scottish Government.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

I’ve accrued some State Pension in England, and some overseas, but none in Scotland. I’m now living in Scotland. How will my State Pension entitlement be calculated and who will pay it?

It will not matter where in the UK you accrued your State Pension entitlement: if you are retired and are living in Scotland on independence, the Scottish Government will be responsible for paying that pension. The amount you are entitled to will not change because of independence.

In terms of State Pension accrued outside the UK, the Westminster Government is currently not responsible for these payments. The same will be true of the Scottish Government on independence. People living in Scotland will, as is the case now, have their international pensions paid either by the country concerned or by the International Pensions Centre.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

I live in Scotland but I work between Edinburgh and London for different employers. What will happen to the various State Pension pots I have accrued after independence?

All State Pension accrued up to the point of independence anywhere within the UK will count as your State Pension entitlement.

After independence, any pension entitlement gained by working in Scotland will accrue to your Scottish State Pension. Any pension entitlement from working in England, Wales or Northern Ireland will accrue to the UK State Pension and will be payable by the Westminster Government.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will it be difficult to transfer pensions to an independent Scotland?

The Scottish Government will work with the Westminster Government to ensure an orderly transition of responsibility for pensions to an independent Scotland.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How will responsibility for pensions transfer to an independent Scotland?

The Scottish Government supports the view of the Expert Working Group on Welfare that a ‘shared services agreement’ for the administration of benefit payments during a transition period will be in the best interests of both the UK and Scotland.

Both during a period of transition, and in the longer term, pension payments will be administered by existing offices in Dundee and Motherwell.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.