- SNP said retirement age should be frozen with pensions rising to £160 a week
- Parts of Scotland have among the lowest life expectancies in the UK
Raising the retirement age is unfair on Scottish pensioners because they die younger, Nicola Sturgeon declared yesterday. She is pictured at the Westerton Care Home during an election campaign visit in Glasgow
Raising the retirement age is unfair on Scottish pensioners because they die younger, Nicola Sturgeon declared yesterday.
The SNP demanded the retirement age be frozen - in a move which would cost billions of pounds - as the latest price of propping up Ed Miliband in Downing Street in the event of a hung Parliament.
Miss Sturgeon said the rising retirement age was particularly unfair for pensioners in Scotland because they don’t live as long as their counterparts in the rest of the country. At the same time, she issued a demand for a huge inflation-busting increase in the State pension, which would cost billions of pounds more.
Miss Sturgeon said the flat rate pension should increase to ‘at least’ £160 a week. It is currently £113.
Parts of Scotland have among the lowest life expectancies of any part of the UK. In central Glasgow it is less than 73 years for men and for women less than 79.
Across Scotland the figure is about 76 for men and 80 for women. In England and Wales the figures are nearly 79 for men and nearly 83 for women.
But various studies have linked lower life expectancy in Scotland to higher rates of alcohol consumption, smoking, and poor diet. It is also linked to levels of poverty and housing.
Her comments will raise concerns that the SNP will demand a more expensive pension system across the whole of the UK which will benefit Scotland most.
Speaking on a visit to a care home in East Dunbartonshire, Miss Sturgeon said: ‘The Tory/Lib Dem government’s plan to further increase the state pension age is a worry to people across the UK who are planning for their future, but the failure to take Scotland’s specific circumstances into account is particularly unfair.
‘Our comparatively low life expectancy rate is an issue which I will do everything in my power to change but in the meantime it would be completely unacceptable for people in Scotland who have paid in to a state pension all of their lives to lose out.’
‘That is why SNP MPs will reject any plans for a further increase in the state pension age.’
‘Our pensioners have contributed hugely to society and are entitled to get a fair deal in their retirement in return.
She said the SNP would ensure that ‘the contribution older people have made throughout their lives is recognised’ if they hold the balance of power after the election.
Miss Sturgeon said the flat rate pension should increase to ‘at least’ £160 a week. It is currently £113
Miss Sturgeon also issued a demand for the single tier pension to increase to at least ‘to ensure pensioners are no longer subjected to the scourge of means-tested benefits.’
A Conservative Party spokesman said: ‘Capping the state pension age in Scotland will cost hardworking taxpayers across Britain more than £12.5 billion.
‘This gives another glimpse into a future with Ed Miliband as Prime Minister, in the SNP’s pocket – meaning more borrowing, more spending, and more debt than our children could ever hope to repay.’
On Sunday Miss Sturgeon said the SNP would be prepared to prop up a minority Labour government even if Ed Miliband lost the election.
She said the party’s MPs would vote to support Labour even if the party won fewer seats than the Conservatives on May 7.
The SNP have demanded an end to ‘austerity’ and for the Trident nuclear missile system to be scrapped.
For many years, the UK state pension age for men was 65 and the state pension age for women was 60.
But from 2020, both men and women’s retirement age will be 66, increasing to 67 between 2026 and 2028, and then linked to life expectancy after that. The government will then review the state pension age every five years.
During last year’s referendum campaign, the SNP argued the level should only increase to 66 in Scotland, because a lower life expectancy means pensioners receive between £10,000 and £11,000 less.