I have just read through the Scottish Government’s white paper entitled “Pensions in an independent Scotland – September 2013”.
If you’re too busy to read it for yourself I can summarise it’s contents as: “don’t worry, we’re going to keep everything the same as it is in the rest of the UK with the exception of a few tweaks here and there that will make useful campaigning slogans.”
The paper acknowledges that we have an ageing population, which means that state pensions will put an increasing strain on the productive economy, but offers no concrete ideas for solving this problem apart from advocating a looser immigration policy. The strategy appears to hinge on the hope that immigrants will come and look after us in our old age.
There is, of course, the usual political rhetoric about using the levers of power to increase productivity and participation (i.e. getting more people to do more work) to stimulate economic growth, which will pay for our pensions, but nothing specific, nothing to explain what these levers are and the mechanisms that will magically release the economic potential of the ageing population.
When you realise that the white paper is offering nothing that’s noticeably different to what’s going to happen in the UK you wonder where the “Better Together” campaign gets the brass neck to ask, as it does in this article, “Are our pensions safe with independence?”
Back at you, unionists: “Are our pensions safe with the UK?”
The stark truth is that our pensions aren’t safe whichever way we vote next September because neither side has a clue how to deal with the ever-increasing cost of making sure that our old folk are properly funded and cared for.
The universal basic income that I argue for in my book is one way of making sure that everyone is able to pay for their basic needs, and I’m sure there are other people with good ideas that could be brought forward for debate but no, we get the same old waffle from both sides of the independence fence. Another opportunity wasted.