We asked you to submit your questions about an independent Scotland. Here are the answers to your queries about pensions.
What will happen to private pensions? Will my private pension retain its value?
Your private pension will not be affected by Scotland becoming an independent country. Your contract with your pension provider will continue as now. The Scottish Government's proposal is that an independent Scotland will have sterling as its currency, meaning your pension would be paid in the same pounds and pence as it is today.
What will happen to public sector pensions such as for the police, NHS staff and teachers?
Scotland has its own Scottish Public Pensions Agency, which administers the NHS and teachers’ pension schemes. It also develops the regulations for the police, fire and local government schemes. (In Scotland, these are administered on a regional basis). Independence will not change these arrangements. Public sector pensions will continue to be paid just the same as they are now. Your pension rights will not change as a result of Scotland becoming independent.
What about pensions for civil servants in UK-wide schemes or employees of the Royal Mail, given the UK government has taken on pension liabilities?
The Scottish Government will take on these pensions - and employees will continue to contribute to them on the same basis as before independence. The rights you have earned will not be affected by Scotland becoming independent. Scotland has successfully administered pension schemes for hundreds of thousands of public servants under devolution: an independent Scotland will also be able to successfully administer your pension scheme with independence.
The UK government has recently changed conditions and contributions for public sector pension schemes. In an independent Scotland these decisions would be taken by a Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament, rather than by Westminster.
What will happen to the State Pension? Will it be paid? Who will pay it? Will the changes to the age the pension is paid be changed?
Your entitlement to the state pension or pension credits on Day One of an independent Scotland will be the exact same as your entitlement before independence.
The Scottish Government has said that “benefits, tax credits and the state pension would continue to be paid as now in an independent Scotland. It would be for future Scottish administrations to deliver improvements to the system, designed for Scottish needs.”
The state pension and pension credits would be paid through the Scottish Government, rather than through the UK Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). However, you would continue to receive your payments in the same way as you do today.
At the moment, the UK welfare system is administered separately in Northern Ireland, so payments are made through the Northern Irish government rather than by the DWP.
If Northern Ireland is able to administer the welfare state, so too can Scotland.
In 2016 you will elect the first independent government for Scotland. Each party will put forward a manifesto, which will include proposals on pensions and the welfare state (just like happens now in UK general elections). Those manifestos could include policies like increasing the state pension or could seek to amend current UK proposals to change the state pension age. You will be able to vote for the party you think has the best proposals for you and for Scotland.
Scottish elections will decide these issues, not independence.
How can we afford pension payments?
Scotland currently spends a smaller share than the UK of both our national wealth and tax revenues to deliver pension and welfare payments in Scotland.
So the pension or pension credit you receive is more affordable for Scotland than it is for the UK.
Government expenditure and revenues statistics show that in terms of national wealth, Scotland spends 14.4% of GDP on “social protection” compared to 15.9% for the UK. We’ve had to spend a smaller share of our national wealth on pensions and the welfare state than the UK for each of the past five years.
In terms of tax revenues, we spend 38% of Scottish revenues on the different parts of the welfare state, compared to 42% of tax revenues for the UK as a whole.
Because pension and welfare payments are more affordable in Scotland, you can be assured that as an independent country we will be able to continue paying the state pension and pension credits as we do today.
Who will be paying the state pensions and local government pensions in 2015, 2016 before Scotland becomes independent?
If there is a Yes vote in the referendum, in 2015 and for part of 2016 your state pension will continue to be paid through the UK Department of Work and Pensions. It is only after Scotland becomes independent that pensions will be paid through the Scottish Government.
For public sector pensions like the NHS, local government, teachers, police and fire services there will be no change – they will continue to be administered in Scotland and paid in the same way as they are today.