Stay healthy if you want your share of the pension pot

WHILE Alex Salmond and Johann Lamont locked horns over childcare and the affordability of the White Paper commitment, George Osborne was still delivering his autumn statement.

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The two parliaments are more than 400 miles apart but that's not the only glaring gap between the North and South of the UK.

Mr Osborne gave us the news we would all be working for longer before we would be entitled to the state pension.

If you are in your 40s you will have to wait until you are 68 and if you are a school leaver it will be even longer. It's all down to the increase in life expectancy that makes current pensions unaffordable, George tells us.

Pension ages differ across developed countries, but so too do the amounts paid in and paid out so comparisons with, say, France, Sweden or Germany aren't helpful.

But we can compare outcomes within the UK and therein lies another inequality, life expectancy.

So we all work and pay our contributions until pension age then we all get paid out the same rate till we die. Seems fair enough.

Well, in Scotland it's lower and in Glasgow life expectancy is lower still at 71, and it's even lower for a man. In the poorest areas its lower again.

So many can expect to die before pension age and the treasury keeps all your contributions. If you live in Dorset with the highest life expectancy at 83, you can expect a good fourteen years of retirement.

Even the places with the highest life expectancy in Scotland, Aberdeenshire and East Dunbartonshire, are lower than the highest in the south.

Mr Osborne makes it all sound so simple. We are all living longer so we have to work longer and pay more for our pensions.

Except when it comes to Scotland and in particular Glasgow, the sums don't add up. For decades people, especially men, in cities like Glasgow have been dying before or just after retirement age, saving the Treasury wads of cash.

What is the answer?

Of course, thankfully not everyone dies at 71 in the city and increasing numbers are living longer and receiving more in pensions. And no-one wants to see our neighbours in the South dying younger to level the playing field.

You can't ask for higher pensions or a rebate if you die early because it is a national pension scheme and it must be the same rules for everyone.

So, if you don't want your contributions to fund the long retirement of someone in the green and pleasant villages of rural England, we can all try and make sure we live a little longer by being healthier and fitter when we are younger.

Hundreds of thousands more fit and healthy Scots, working longer, contributing more, receiving more in return.

I'm sure George and his friends will love that.


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