INDEPENDENCE is the key to better Scottish pensions, the SNP conference has agreed.

Delegates heard how the UK has one of the least generous pensions when compared to neighbouring countries and those in the European Union during Sunday’s virtual meeting.

The resolution which passed set out that a future Scottish Government will deliver ambitious plans to ensure all those in Scotland, regardless of gender, should receive a better pension at 65 or younger.

It comes less than a week after the UK Tory government broke a manifesto promise by steaming ahead with scrapping the triple lock on pensions.

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UK pensioners currently receive just 28% of the average working wage when they retire. In Norway this is 51% of the average wage and 70.9% in Denmark.

The motion passed overwhelmingly by 502 votes to 12.

It read: “Conference notes that currently UK pensions are among the lowest in Europe.

“In an independent Scotland conference would expect a future Scottish Government to have ambitious plans to improve this situation and in particular to ensure that all those living in Scotland, regardless of gender, should receive a pension at age 65 years or younger.”

Angus MacNeil, MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, who spoke on behalf of the motion, told delegates the UK “doesn’t really have a pension system that is great for Britons at all”.

He said: “In fact our independent neighbours, nations the size of Scotland, have a far better pension system than the UK. It’s true that Norway, Denmark, Ireland, all have superior pensions for their pensioners than we have here at the moment in Scotland as part of the UK.”

The National:

MacNeil (pictured) then forensically went through five points to show the extent of the difference between the UK and it’s neighbours.

Firstly, he noted that the average single pension per week is about £179.60 in the UK. In Ireland it’s £212.08, in the Netherlands £254 and in Denmark £366.

MacNeil then explained that the OECD average on pensions is about 6.5% of GDP - in the UK it is only 4.7%.

He continued: “When we compare thirdly pensions with average earnings we see that countries are doing far better than the UK is doing.

“The UK has pensions at about 28.4% of its average earnings, Ireland higher again at 35%, Norway 51% and Denmark is able to provide its pensioners with a pension that is about 70.9% of average earnings which is quite staggering really.”

The CFA institute of global pension indexes, MacNeill said, “ranks the UK as C plus when it comes to pensions, Ireland and Norway Bs, the Netherlands and Denmark are As”.

He added: “Clearly the UK must do better, and hopefully in Scotland, someday with independence, we should aim to match the achievements of those other countries.”

For his final point, MacNeil noted that the one index the UK government leads is on pensioner poverty.

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He said: “With 14.9% of pensioners and people over 66 in the UK in poverty. Far higher than in Ireland, double that of Finland and three times that of Norway.

“It is clearly not a situation that pensioners in the UK will be looking forward to when they compare their chances of wealth and poverty in old age with those other countries that have been mentioned.

“All five indicators demonstrate there’s slack in the system and there’s an awful lot of slack in the UK system.

“If we compare what the UK intends to do by 2044 to 2046, with the highest pension age in Europe at 68, Ireland will be 66, we can and should be doing an awful lot better, we should be going the other direction.”

MacNeil then said that an independent Scotland would make life better for Scots with a “pension age that is fitting for people and affordable also”.

The National:

David Linden MP (pictured) said: "It is well documented that the UK has the lowest state pension of any country in north west Europe, and UK pensioner poverty is on the rise after a decade of Tory austerity cuts.

"And now, to add insult to injury, we have Tory ministers considering cutting the increased payments that millions of Scottish and UK pensioners are due which will make pensioner poverty even worse.

“That is why independence for Scotland is so important. With independence, we can create a fairer, more progressive pension system whereby we guarantee that all those living in Scotland, regardless of gender, would receive a pension at the age of 65 or younger.

“The Tory government has no intention of building a fair recovery from the pandemic. The only way to keep Scotland safe from Tory cuts is to become an independent country, with the full powers needed to protect and improve pensioner incomes."