‘No ifs, no buts’ Blackford adamant UK must pay for Scotland’s pensions after independence

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Ian Blackford and Scottish Cabinet Secretary Kate Forbes told Scottish pensioners that Scottish independence would not affect their payments from the UK Government. Mr Blackford has insisted the situation would be similar to Brits who live abroad but are still eligible for pension payments due to their National Insurance contributions. But the comments drew the ire of opposition benches as a wider debate on pensions blew up with Mr Blackford challenged the point during his appearance on ITV.

Speaking ITV Representing Border, Mr Blackford doubled down and said the UK Government was obliged to pay pensioners

He said: “This was an issue that was discussed in 2014.

“But let’s be clear about this, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury made it clear the UK retained an obligation to pay pensions to those who had paid National Insurance.

“That’s a matter of precedence…

“The Scottish Government would take on the responsibility of its pensioners. Let’s not forget we have the lowest state pension in Western Europe at the moment.

“Pensioners are being short-changed. It is Westminster that has removed the Triple Lock.

“The point is, it’s an obligation on the UK Government to meet the commitment to pensioners who have paid National Insurance contributions.

“They have paid the right to receive that pension. You can argue about the mechanism over how that is transferred, and that will be debated, but it’s right the UK Government meets its right to pensioners, regardless of where they are.

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“If you or I, as UK citizens, go and live in another European country then our right to that UK pension remains.

“Scottish pensioners have that right. They have paid National Insurance over a long period to get that. That will remain.”

Mr Blackford said there was “no ifs, no buts” about the UK providing pension payments to National Insurance contributors.

Scottish Tory constitution spokesman, Donald Cameron, said: “For such senior SNP figures to be suggesting pension rights will be unaffected in an independent Scotland is astonishing and blatantly inaccurate.

“It is clear that the SNP are all too happy to spread misinformation as they ramp up their plans for another divisive referendum.”

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Mr Blackford made the comments on pensions during his appearance on Scotland’s Choice podcast in December and said “absolutely nothing” would happen to state pensions if independence was gained.

Ms Forbes also told Scotland’s Choice podcast on January 18: “I wouldn’t dare disagree with Ian Blackford – the expert on all things pensions. So, I would agree with him.”

Debates have now erupted as to which government is responsible for individual pensions if they have only paid National Insurance for some of their life.

An SNP spokesperson said: “The UK Government confirmed in 2014 that, after independence, people would be entitled to the pension contributions they had made to the UK system.

“However, independence will also give us the opportunity to provide significantly better pensions.”

A report published before the 2014 Scottish referendum in 2013, read: “For those in Scotland in receipt of the UK State Pension at the time of independence, the responsibility for paying that pension would transfer to the Scottish Government.

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