Sturgeon: 'SNP policy on pensions has not changed'
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said the SNP’s “position hasn’t changed” on UK pensions being paid out in an independent Scotland – and that pensions would be “subject to negotiations” with the UK Government.
In a pooled interview with the BBC, Sturgeon said “I don’t need to clarify” the SNP’s position on pensions in an independent Scotland, as the party’s policy remains what was set out in the 2014 white paper.
The BBC’s interviewer asked: “Do you want to take the opportunity to clarify the SNP’s position on the state pension if Scotland were to become an independent company?”
To which Sturgeon replied: “I don’t need to clarify. The position is as it was set out in the 2014 white paper. There would be negotiation on all sorts of things when Scotland becomes independent.
“About assets and liabilities and that would include the historical position in terms of national insurance contributions paid by Scots and that would all be taken account of and that would influence the position of an independent Scotland.”
Interrupting, the BBC journalist asked: “But you accept that there’s not a pension pot to be shared out?”
Sturgeon said: “You might get the answer if you didn’t interrupt me in the throws of giving the answer.
“After that, of course, it is for a Scottish Government to be responsible for the payment of pensions but the historic liabilities and assets around pensions, as around other things, will be a matter of negotiation at the point of independence.”
Earlier this week, the SNP leader at Westminster, Ian Blackford, told ITV’s Representing Border that there was "an obligation on the UK Government to meet the commitment to pensioners who have paid National Insurance contributions."
The comments have led to opposition parties questioning whether the SNP plans for the UK’s taxpayers to pay for Scottish pensions in the event of Scottish independence.
The BBC interviewer continued: “So on day one of independence, how much of the £8.5bn [annual cost of Scottish pensions] do you think the UK government should or would pay?”
Sturgeon said: “On an ongoing basis it will be for the Scottish Government to fund Scottish pensions, but in terms of how we take account of historic assets and liabilities, that will be a matter of negotiation.
“I would encourage you to go back and look at the 2014 white paper, which set this out, and the point that I’m making…”
The interviewer interjected: “It didn’t mention the UK paying…”
To which Sturgeon replied: “The 2014 white paper set out the position of the Scottish Government and what I'm saying to you is that position hasn't changed.”