The fact that no Scottish MP is calling for UK pensions to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament tells you that even the supporters of independence know it makes sense to share resources and risks with the rest of the UK, Scottish Secretary David Mundell said today.
Speaking ahead of the Scotland Bill Committee Stage debate on devolving new welfare powers to Holyrood, Mr Mundell said the lack of any amendments on devolving pensions ‘spoke volumes’ and made the point very clearly that UK pensions are safer and more affordable if we work with everyone else in the UK.
As a result of the Government’s triple lock policy, someone on a full basic State Pension can expect to receive £560 more in 2015/16 than if it had been up-rated by earnings since the start of this Parliament, and the basic State Pension is a higher share of average earnings than at any time since 1992. Overall, this means from April 2015, the full basic State Pension is £950 per year higher than at the start of this Parliament.
The Scotland Bill is set to transfer £2.5 billion of welfare responsibility to Holyrood, as well as elements which go beyond the Smith Agreement like the new power to top-up benefits in reserved areas.
The Scottish Social Attitudes survey from 2013 showed that 61% of people wanted pensions funded from taxes collected across the UK. It also showed that 58% of people thought that pensions should always be the same in Scotland and England.
Mr Mundell said that MPs must respect the referendum result and accept that people in Scotland voted to remain part of a United Kingdom where we benefit from sharing risks and resources with all other parts of the UK.
The fact that no Scottish MP has tabled an amendment to devolve UK pensions speaks volumes. It tells us that even the supporters of independence accept there are parts of welfare where it makes sense to share resources and risks with the rest of the UK. It is clear that pensions are safer and more affordable if we work with everyone else in the UK and that it would be wrong to devolve UK pensions.
MPs have to respect the referendum result where people in Scotland voted to remain part of a United Kingdom and hold on to the benefits of being part of the UK.
Looking after people in Scotland who are retired, unwell or out or work is now a shared space where the UK and Scottish Governments need to work together.
This is about getting the right balance and having the best of both worlds. Sometimes it will be right for people in Cumbernauld to know they have exactly the same protection and support as people in Cardiff and Carlisle. On other occasions the Scottish Parliament may want to offer different help for people in Scotland – using the taxes they have raised in Scotland.