We must vote Yes to protect pensions

BY STEWART PATERSON

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Nicola Sturgeon says Scots will lose an average of £10,000 compared to rest of the UK

BY STEWART PATERSON

NICOLA Sturgeon has given warnings that a No vote could affect the future of pensions and Scotland's membership of the European Union.

Speaking at a meeting of Yes supporters from the Polish community in Glasgow, she said the UK Parliament was "dancing" to the tune of Nigel Farage and his UK Independence Party (Ukip) and that could lead to the UK leaving the European Union.

The Conservative Party is going into next year's General Election with a pledge to hold an in-out referendum of the UK membership of the EU.

Ms Sturgeon said with Ukip's growing popularity there is a risk Britain could leave, taking Scotland with it.

The Deputy First Minister said: "The referendum is about putting Scotland's future in the hands of the people who live here and Polish Scots are a very important part of our future.

"With the Westminster parties dancing to Ukip's anti-European tune, Scotland faces the very real prospect of being ripped out of the EU against our will in the event of a No vote.

"With independence we will finally be able to take our place around the European top table, building on our positive relationships with our European partners and ensuring we get the best possible deal for Scotland."

Earlier, Ms Sturgeon said pensions would be better protected under independence and said Scots would lose out under UK plans to increase the pension age.

She challenged the Labour Party to explain its failure to oppose Tory reforms that will increase the state pension age and abolish Savings Credit for pensioners.

She said: "When he was Prime Minister, Gordon Brown backed a much slower increase in the state pension age, but now the Labour Party has joined the Tories in plans to increase the state pension age to 67 from 2026.

"This decision is unfair to men and women across Scotland and will mean Scottish pensioners continue to lose on average £10,000 compared to pensioners in the rest of the UK."

She said Labour and the Tories were "singing from the same hymn sheet" on pension cuts and added: "The decision to follow the Tory lead and abolish savings credit is a direct hit on poorer pensioners who have saved for their retirement.

"Similarly, the decision not to increase pension credit in line with the triple-lock is a blow to poorer pensioners."

Ms Sturgeon said that in an independent Scotland the Single Tier Pension would be set at a minimum of £160 per week, which she said would be £5 a week more than under UK estimates.

She added: "Scotland is a rich country that can well afford to fund our pension payments and an independent Scotland will give pensions and pensioners the priority they deserve."

stewart.paterson@ eveninghtimes.co.uk

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