In September, Scotland will vote on becoming independent from the UK, and former British PM Gordon Brown has found a new weapon in the heated debate over the referendum: pensions. In a recent speech, Brown noted that as long as Scotland remains part of the UK , the costs of maintaining its public pensions system are “spread across the UK.” As the FT reports:
The former PM says that as Scottish pensioners numbers rise from one million to 1.3m, the UK will pay the escalating cost of Scottish pensions that will rise from a £425m-a-year extra benefit to a £700m-a-year extra benefit over the next two decades. This is because while Scotland pays 8 per cent of UK national insurance, it receives upwards of 9 per cent of the benefits.The reason for the higher Scottish payout is that Scotland benefits far more from UK-wide pension credits to top up the basic pension, with £700m a year paid to 248,000 Scots in credits worth £25 per week to the typical recipient.
Pensions are just one more aspect of the economic and political risks Scotland will run by cutting itself off from UK resources. An independent Scotland won’t be able to keep the pound in a currency union with the UK, will face new security risks, and might not gain entry to the EU. Clearly, things would not be as rosy for a post-UK Scotland as the SNP would have its fellow countrymen believe.