Do pension figures add up for independent Scotland?

Salmond's SNP wants to be more generous to pensioners, but the cost is high

Updated: 
The Final Day Of Campaigning For The Scottish Referendum Ahead Of Tomorrow's Historic Vote

The fight for Scotland is almost over but I still have concerns about the figures.

When it comes to pensioners the SNP has been bountiful in its promises but can it really deliver an enhanced state pension to Scots at an early age?

SNP first minister Alex Salmond has said OAPs will be given the same flat rate state pension of £144-per-week being offered by Westminster from April 2016 but instead of rising in line with earnings it will increase by the higher of 2.5%, earnings or inflation (the triple lock idea which is too expensive for the UK to run for much longer).

Scotland also isn't happy about the increases in state pension being proposed by Westminster that will see individuals receive their pension at age 68 by 2026.

Changes to the state pension explained

Its argument is that people in Scotland have a lower life expectancy so would miss out on money by receiving their pension so late.

The problem is with this rhetoric is that while it's nice and emotive – pensioners choosing between heating and eating is always a tough subject – the truth is the numbers do not add up.

Triple locking the state pension in an independent Scotland would cost an extra £53 million a year in 2014/15 and rise to £269 million in 2025. The cost will rise again to £713 million per year by 2050.

This in on top of the £6 billion of state pension costs Scotland already has.

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David Cameron in Scotland to Campaign Against Independence
Demographic time bomb

While SNP has been quick to reiterate that Scotland is a 'rich country' and the pensions bills as a percentage of total spending is smaller than the UK, it has failed to note a very important point: Scotland's population is ageing at a much faster rate than anywhere else in the UK.

The National Records of Scotland predicts that the number of people paying in by working to support those who are not working, such as retired people, will be 3.5% lower in 2037 than it was in 2037 as the population ages.

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Scottish women also have the lowest rate of births in the UK meaning there just aren't enough young people to support the increasing number of pensioners.

This is demographic time bomb for Scotland which will only be solved by an influx of immigrants of working age or a sharp turnaround in the number of children being born.

The SNP is keen to assert itself as a rich country but using its oil as a get out of jail free card isn't the answer because as those oil reserves dwindle the demographic challenge increases.

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