Armed forces personnel, teachers and other public sector workers could find their pensions at risk in an independent Scotland, according to a new report commissioned by the SNP.
‘Pensions in an Independent Scotland’, a report published by the Scottish Government, lists public service pension plans as one of the key areas where “there would be a negotiation with the UK Government as part of the associated transfer of assets and liabilities.”
This means that if the Scottish Government refuses to accept its share of UK liabilities as a result of the rest of the UK rejecting a currency union, public service pension holders in Scotland could find their plans at risk.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has previously warned that Scotland may refuse to accept its share of UK liabilities if a currency union cannot be agreed.
Appearing on Good Morning Scotland in November, she said: “The UK government, in the wake of a yes vote, will want Scotland to take its fair share of liabilities. But that only works if we also get our fair share of assets.”
First Minister Alex Salmond has expressed a similar view, saying: “The chancellor will have to wake up to the fact that he cannot lay claim to assets to which Scotland has a share – such as the Bank of England and the pound – and still expect an independent Scotland to meet a share of UK liabilities.”
The report was created to set out the “policy positions” of the Scottish Government for public service pensions in an independent Scotland and claims that if Scotland does break away from the rest of the UK, financial management of the NHS and Teachers’ schemes would also transition from the UK Treasury to the Scottish Government.
Labour’s Shadow Pensions Minister Gregg McClymont MP has stated that the time has come for Alex Salmond to make his position clear on the future of Scotland’s ‘liabilities’.
“In pensions nothing is more important than certainty about the nation’s currency,” said Mr McClymont. “We now know a currency union wouldn’t work for a separate Scotland with a foreign UK. Now that a currency union has been ruled out, Alex Salmond needs to tell us what his Plan B is on funding public pensions in a separate Scotland.
“Scots who have worked hard all their lives to enjoy their retirement deserve certainty. It’s clear that a vote to leave the UK is a vote to put the pensions of Scots at risk.”
A spokesperson for the Scottish Government confirmed that they propose to take responsibility for the pensions of those who work or have worked in the public sector in Scotland.
However they fell short of guaranteeing that these plans would be exempt from any future discussions over assets and liabilities, stressing instead that any negotiations about future changes to public sector pensions would be positive and inclusive.
The Spokesperson said: “There would be no difference to how much people pay for their public service pensions or the level of benefits they receive as a result of independence.
“We already administer pensions for the NHS in Scotland and for members of the Scottish Teachers’ Superannuation Scheme (STSS) plus provide advice on local government, fire and police pensions”.