SIX in 10 voters would back Yes if they were convinced an independent Scotland will deliver higher pensions and an economy based on the health and happiness of its citizens, a new poll has revealed.

The survey shows the importance of setting out a positive economic case for leaving the UK, ahead of the Scottish Government unveiling a paper outlining its approach tomorrow as part of its new prospectus on independence.

The poll, carried out by Panelbase for Believe in Scotland, and published exclusively by the Sunday National, shows Yes and No in a 50/50 dead heat when respondents were asked the straightforward basic question of whether Scotland should be an independent country.

But support for independence was boosted over the line strongly if the question was phrased to promise voters a new vision of the economy where happiness and the environment are put on a par with growth, and where they would expect a much higher state pension.

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If “don’t knows” are excluded, more than six in 10 – 61% – of voters would back Yes and only 39% No if independence delivered higher pensions and a wellbeing economy, where the health and happiness of citizens are given equal consideration to economic growth, if don’t knows are excluded.

If undecided voters are included, the split is Yes on 52%, No 33% and 14% said they did not know.

Top polling expert Professor John Curtice, of Strathclyde University, said the economic case for independence is “crucial” if Yes wanted to get over the line at the next vote.

The rise in support for Yes on the basis of the wellbeing economy concept showed “not everyone’s commitment to the Union is hard ironed”, Curtice said.

He said: “If people were convinced that independence would herald a land flowing with milk and honey there would be a majority in favour.

“But the real question is whether or not they can be convinced that that is indeed what would happen.”

Curtice added: “The economic argument was crucial in 2014 and ultimately was not won by the Yes side, although some progress was made.

“But now the debate is a very different one – it is about the relative merits of being inside the EU and outside the UK versus inside the UK but outside the EU, and that raises a set of questions and trade-offs on which as yet there has been little public debate, and on which the Scottish Government will need to put its best foot forward on Monday.”

The National: Professor John Curtice said the independence debate is now ‘very different’ than in 2014Professor John Curtice said the independence debate is now ‘very different’ than in 2014

Believe in Scotland founder Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp said a wellbeing economy “blends the old, outdated ideas of left and right into a higher-purpose socioeconomic approach”.

He said the Scottish Government must show it is “serious” about achieving independence by putting the new economy concept at the heart of the case for leaving Westminster behind.

Business for Scotland runs the Believe in Scotland campaign through its Scotianomics research arm.

He said: “At Business for Scotland, our mantra has always been that you cannot have a thriving society without a thriving economy and you cannot have a thriving economy without a thriving society – they are inseparable.

“For policymakers to emphasise the economy over society means that their economic plans will fail, and vice versa.

“When the Scottish Government announces its economic plans for independence they will contain elements that not everyone will agree with.

“However, if the wellbeing economic approach sits at the heart of it, then the people of Scotland will know that their government is ready to press reset; that it is ready to get serious about following a more enlightened path to shared prosperity than any Westminster party could even contemplate.”

SNP depute leader Keith Brown said it was “no surprise” that support was so high for an independent nation that focuses on wellbeing.

He said: “With the ever-growing turmoil of Westminster and its high inequality, Brexit-based UK economy that is failing people across Scotland, it is essential that we grasp the full powers of independence which allow us to build an inclusive, fair, wellbeing economy that works for everyone.

The National: The poll found a huge spike for the Yes vote when pensions, happiness and health are set as the focusThe poll found a huge spike for the Yes vote when pensions, happiness and health are set as the focus

“It’s no surprise that support for a better future as an independent nation, a nation that focuses on the wellbeing of its people, is so popular – especially when it is in such stark contrast to Westminster control and the harm being caused by chaotic Westminster governments we don’t vote for.”

Maggie Chapman, the Scottish Greens’ spokesperson for equality, outlined her party’s vision for what a wellbeing economy would look like, saying it must include “a real living wage for all workers, a universal basic income for each citizen, and the better work/life balance that comes from a four-day week”.

She added: “We must be ambitious and bold and cannot simply replicate the failed policies of Downing Street.

“We want Scotland to be the best country for children to grow up in, and to offer a pension that allows people to retire with security and dignity.

“One of the reasons why independence is so important is precisely because it would give us the opportunity to do things differently, and to do them better.

“There is nothing inevitable about the pain and cuts that are being inflicted by Downing Street, they are product of political choices rooted in an ideology that seeks to serve the rich.

“For nearly 15 years, this brutal ideology that sees wealth stolen from the majority to line the pockets of the already fabulously wealthy has been allowed to run amok, causing devastation and distress to communities across Scotland.”

Another aspect of the poll is the so-called “wellbeing pension”, which would see the basic state pension hiked from £141.85 to £225 per week.

One of the key arguments for Better Together in 2014 was exploiting uncertainty around pensions in an independent Scotland and it continues to plague the SNP.

The party were forced to clarify comments made by Westminster leader Ian Blackford earlier this year in which he said the UK Government would remain responsible for the pensions of people in Scotland even after independence.

The party’s position is that pensions would be a matter for negotiations around Scotland leaving the UK. But Curtice warned that the data – and the importance to voters of security in old age – showed the SNP “do need to get their ducks in a row on pensions”.

Business for Scotland has been a leading voice in promoting and publishing research on the wellbeing economic approach in Scotland.

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MacIntyre-Kemp said: “Last week’s SNP conference backed a motion to pay a living/wellbeing pension of £220.00 per week after independence. That motion was based on our calculations of the amount required to live with dignity in retirement but the cost of living is rising so fast we think the wellbeing pension now needs to be £225.00 per week and we will be updating the Scottish Government with our new research this week.

“Everything has changed since 2014. Unionist politicians lied to Scotland, Brexit has been an unmitigated disaster which laid the foundations for the cost of living crisis and Westminster is mired in political, financial and economic instability.

“With Labour and the Conservatives committed to Brexit, Scotland becoming an independent nation, rejoining the EU and thriving through a wellbeing economic approach is now the opportunity of our lifetimes. This poll proves that the people of Scotland are beginning to agree.”

The poll, which surveyed 1017 people in Scotland over the age of 16 between October 5-7 this year, also found that support for independence among those who did not vote in the previous referendum was high.

On the straightforwardbasic question of whether Scotland should be an independent country, 59% of those who did not vote in 2014, for whatever reason, said they would vote Yes, when undecided respondents are excluded.