THE SNP must provide “reassurance” to voters or risk undermining its credibility on the issue of pensions in an independent Scotland, the party has been warned.

The party's policy convener Toni Giugliano has called for "clarity and certainty" on the issue ahead of a fresh referendum on Scottish independence.

Both First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Westminster leader Ian Blackford have come under fire from Unionists in recent days after saying taxpayers in the UK will continue to pay for Scots’ pensions in the event of independence.

The claim was branded "misleading" by the Tory pensions minister Guy Opperman on Sunday.

The National: Guy OppermanGuy Opperman

Now campaigners have urged the SNP to clear up its message on the future of pensions after independence. 

READ MORE: Pensions in independent Scotland question backfired on Murdo Fraser

An SNP source told The National it was “important we communicate [pensions policy] effectively”.

The source added: “I don’t think we managed to do that last week. It created a lot of confusion and looked like passing the buck.

“People who worked all their life want to know that what they have paid in will come back out through their pension.

“The government of a new, independent country will guarantee its citizen’s pensions. Ultimately, we need to make that commitment.

 “We need to provide reassurance. Whenever you start talking about other governments, it creates question marks.

“In 2014, when we talked about the currency union, we had the ball in our opponent’s court."

The National: Gordon MacIntyre-KempGordon MacIntyre-Kemp

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, the head of pro-independence think tank Business for Scotland, called on the Holyrood administration to commit to paying pensions if Scotland left the UK.

He said: “What the SNP should be saying is the simple truth that pensions will be safer and better in an independent Scotland.

“The Scottish Government must guarantee all pensions and benefits. Pensions must be paid and administrated by the Scottish Government".  

READ MORE: The reality of pensions in a Scotland that has voted for independence

"This is what independence means - once the transition period is over, the provider and guarantor of your pensions will be the Government of an independent Scotland - not the Government of what will by then, be an external state.”

He added he expected the UK Government would not be “off the hook in terms of costs” because negotiations would require the two administrations to divide state assets and liabilities.

Giugliano, the SNP’s policy convenor, told The National that Scots wanted “clarity and certainty” over the question of pensions after independence.

“This is not a negotiation period, this is a pre-campaign period,” he said.

The National: Toni GiuglianoToni Giugliano


“We need to provide more certainty on pensions now. No matter the outcome of negotiations, the government of an independent Scotland would be the guarantor of pensions.”

Dennis Canavan, the former chair of Yes Scotland’s advisory board said pensioners “deserve a firm and unequivocal commitment now that the state pension will be safeguarded in an independent Scotland”.

With the Scottish Government reasserting the topic of independence high on its agenda, the debate around pensions has emerged as a hot topic.

Blackford sparked fury from Unionist politicians after comments made on the pro-independence podcast Scotland’s Choice. Asked what would happen to Scots’ pensions after independence, he said: “Absolutely nothing”.

The National: Ian BlackfordIan Blackford

He told the hosts the “commitment to continue to pay pensions rests with the UK Government”, even in the event Scotland leaves the UK.

READ MORE: 'The Tories are nervous': Nicola Sturgeon enters independence pensions row

Tory MSP Murdo Fraser picked up on the comments, asking the First Minister last week if it was “really now the SNP position that pensions in an independent Scotland would be paid by taxpayers in England?”

Sturgeon replied that the Tories were “nervous” about the question of pensions and reasserted Blackford’s belief the UK Government would continue to pay pensions to those with “accumulated rights” through lifelong National Insurance contributions.

The National: Nicola SturgeonNicola Sturgeon

She cited evidence given to a Holyrood committee in 2014 by then pensions minister Steve Webb. He later walked back comments made during the session in written evidence.

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 than are currently available, given that the UK has a state pension provision lagging behind many neighbouring European countries and other developed nations.”