IAN Blackford has said that his points on pensions in an independent Scotland have been "wholly misrepresented".

The SNP Westminster leader last week sparked a debate about pensions if Scotland were to vote Yes in a second independence referendum when he said that Scots who have paid National Insurance in the UK system are entitled to pension payments.

Blackford was challenged on whether this position chimes with the argument made by the SNP ahead of the 2014 independence referendum that responsibility for pensions in an independent Scotland would "transfer to the Scottish Government”.

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In an interview with ITV's Representing Border, Blackford used the example of UK citizens moving to live in another European country and being able to maintain their right to a UK pension.

He said that Scots pay National Insurance as an "entitlement" to a future pension.

He added: "That's a right to a UK pension – there's no ifs, no buts about that."

On Wednesday, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon spoke during a broadcast interview about pensions among other issues.

The SNP leader said the party's position was "as it was" in the 2014 white paper, saying that there would be negotiations on many different issues when Scotland becomes independent regarding assets and liabilities including the "historical position in terms of National Insurance contributions paid by Scots". She said that this would influence the "starting position" of negotiations.

From the point Scotland becomes independent, it will then be for the Scottish Government to be responsible for the payments of pensions.

Not predicting how future negotiations between the UK Government and independent Scotland would progress, Sturgeon said that "in terms of how we take account of historic assets and liabilities, that will be a matter of negotiation".

Following the First Minister's comments, articles claimed that the positions of the two SNP politicians were at odds and Blackford called out an article that appeared in The Times which suggested he claimed state pensions were paid for from a "pot", a term he did not use.

Blackford took to Twitter to call out the article which he said "misrepresents his views.

He said: "I have never argued that those receiving a state pension build up a pot, there is no such pot so what is the reality?

"Individuals pay national insurance and as a result build entitlement to a state pension. Today’s national insurance contributions meet current pension payments. There are requirements out of national insurance such as two months cash flow held within the national insurance fund.

"The UK Govt actuaries publish reports on the expected trajectory of national insurance receipts and expenditure. Any shortfall in liabilities can and must be met with additional funding."

What are the rules around state pensions in the current UK system?

The UK Government has several different qualifiers that need to be met to receive different levels of its new state pension, which was introduced in April 2016 for people reaching state pension age after that date.

The section on the UK Government's website detailing how NI contributions work with state pensions outlines:

  • Your state pension is based on your NI record when you reach state pension age.
  • You usually need to have 10 qualifying years on NI record to get any new state pension.
  • You need 35 qualifying years in order to receive the full state pension

Much reference has been made to an article by economic think tank the Fraser of Allander Institute (FAI) about who is responsible for state pensions in an independent Scotland.

It states that the UK Government can "change the qualifying rules for state pensions as its sees fit" and that a state pension is a "benefit" that the UK can "reduce, or even, in principle, eliminate".

READ MORE: Ignore the misinformation, here's the reality of pensions in an independent Scotland

The point about state pensions being made to individuals who have made NI contributions living in a foreign country is made in the FAI article with an indication that the award of state pensions to Scots following a vote for independence would be part of "wider negotiations", which Sturgeon suggested.

The UK would then argue for the Scottish Government to make a reasonable contribution to the cost of the state pension in Scotland, according to the FAI.

Under current state pension rules, it is NI contributions that determine eligibility rather than having citizenship of the UK.