PENSIONERS will be better protected under an independent Scotland according to the Deputy First Minister
Nicola Sturgeon launched the Scottish Government's paper on pensions and said the value of pensions would be subject to stronger safeguards than the current UK system.
Ms Sturgeon said immediately following independence the state pension rate and age would remain the same as now and a commission would review the appropriate retirement age based on Scottish circumstances.
She said she did not think the increases in the pension age proposed by Westminster to 67 in 2028 was right for Scotland and a different timescale for the increase was affordable.
The Scottish Government revealed the paper, Pensions In An Independent Scotland, and said it would have a triple lock to ensure pensions kept pace with rising costs.
Ms Sturgeon said a single tier Scottish state pension would be introduced for new pensioners in 2016 at £160 per week.
It would be guaranteed to rise by 2.5%, in line with average earnings or inflation, whichever is highest, and guaranteed for the first term of a new independent Scottish Government
The Deputy First Minister said: "Scotland is a wealthy and productive country with strong financial foundations. We can more than afford a decent pensions system that guarantees dignity for our older people.
"Successive UK government decisions have resulted in a pensions crisis. Independence will bring decision-making on pensions home to the Scottish Parliament and provide the opportunity to do things differently and better.
"As this comprehensive paper makes clear, we will build on the current system and make improvements where necessary."
The paper states that the savings credit element of pension credit will be retained to help lower income pensioners.
The Scottish Government said its general principle in planning for pensions in an independent Scotland is to keep the best of the current pensions system.
It said it wanted to stress the importance of certainty in "this most important area of public policy".
John Swinney, Finance Secretary, said: "The payment of benefits accrued in people's private pensions will be not be affected by a change in constitutional arrangements.
"The paper outlines our plans to help people save for a better retirement, by continuing with the roll-out of automatic enrolment and establishing our own Scottish Employment Savings Trust.
"We will establish our own Pensions Regulator which will work closely with the UK Pensions Regulator and the Financial Conduct Authority to maintain a pan-UK approach to the regulation of private pensions."
However, critics said the plan was not costed and suggested that the UK's larger pool of working people was best to provide pensions. A spokesman for the UK Government said: "Nowhere in this paper is there a price tag for how much this new Scottish pensions system would cost people in Scotland.
"The Department of Work and Pensions estimates not bringing forward the rise in state pension age to 67 alone would cost people in Scotland an extra £6bn."
The Conservatives said it was not possible to have a lower pension age in Scotland with a rising older population.
Gavin Brown, Scottish Conservative finance spokesman, said the government's own figures showed Scotland's pensioner population was projected to increase by more than in the UK.
He said: "This SNP pensions policy relies very heavily on the assumption that there will be a slower increase in pensioners compared to the rest of the UK.
"But the evidence provided by the National Records of Scotland shows the complete opposite, and this has not been mentioned"