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  By Martin Kelly

Former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown has re-entered the independence debate with a warning that pensions in an independent Scotland would cost three times the amount of revenue generated by oil.

The former Labour leader will make the claim in a speech later today to be given on Behelf of the Better Together campaign.

However Brown is facing criticism for the move from the SNP who are highlighting what it has termed the Labour MP’s own “abysmal track record” on pensions.  When the Labour MP was chancellor, his surprise tax raid on pensions was estimated to have cost the industry £100bn.

SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Eilidh Whiteford said:

“Gordon Brown is simply repeating the same economically illiterate claims the Tories and Lib Dems made over a year ago.  On this backwards logic the UK pensions bill is 25 times the value of its oil and gas – making it impossible for the UK to afford to pay for pensions.

“The only new thing in this contribution is that Gordon Brown has finally ended the charade and joined his Labour colleagues in the Tory No campaign.

“Far from re-launching as a positive campaign this contribution is negative, repetitive and lacks any credibility.”

In his speech Mr Brown will say an independent Scotland Scotland faces a pensions “time bomb” with what he claims is an elderly population growing faster than the rest of the UK.

The former prime minister and chancellor will tell his audience: “The whole point of sharing risks and resources across the UK is that it is right and proper that the British welfare state bears the rising cost of Scottish pensions as the number of old people will rise from one million to 1.3 million.

“As the internal DWP document makes clear, it is fairer and better for everyone that Britain’s faster-rising working-age population rather than Scotland’s slow-rising working-age population covers the cost of the rising numbers of elderly in Scotland, because we have contributed in UK National Insurance all our lives to spread the risks of poverty in retirement.

“If the SNP deny there is a problem, they have to explain why they have set up a working party on ‘the affordability’ of future pensions.

“Scottish public sector pension liabilities of £100 billion, while also higher, are also rightly covered as part of the system of pooling and sharing resources across the UK.

“It makes no sense either to break up the British system of pension payments or to set up a wholly new administrative system which the DWP costs at £1 billion in the first years.

“In areas such as pensions, it makes good sense to combine having a Scottish Parliament with being part of Britain.

“The SNP Government has said the case for independence should be judged on whether Scotland would benefit financially or not.

“It is clear that pensioners are better protected when the risks are spread across the UK and it is also clear that, in the year the SNP want independence, the Scots pension bill alone is three times the income from oil revenues.

“Indeed the best deal for poorer pensioners is the redistribution of resources we have negotiated within the UK which allowed pensioner poverty in Scotland to fall under Labour, from 33% in 1997 to 11% when we left office.”

Mr Brown’s claims, which are believed to have been prompted by the failing Better Together campaign, were dismissed by MP Whiteford who added:

“The reality is that pensions are more affordable in Scotland than in the rest of the UK, a view supported by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research who have also made clear that the demographic challenge is no more important to Scotland than it is to the rest of the UK.

“Pensioners and public sector workers across Scotland will have little faith in Gordon Brown’s comments on pensions.  As Chancellor he failed to restore the link to earnings leaving pensioners out of pocket and his raid on the pension funds saw pensioners lose £100bn of investments. Meanwhile public sector workers have seen the terms and conditions of their pensions eroded and the Scottish Government threatened with funding cuts if it didn’t implement the same policies.

“With independence we will be able to ensure a fair deal for pensioners with a triple lock on the state pension to keep pace with the cost of living, a review of the pension age to ensure it is right for Scotland’s pensioners and a fair approach to public sector pensions.”

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) made clear earlier this year that “Our analysis has shown that the costs of the state pension would be lower in Scotland, due to Scotland’s lower life expectancy”.  NIESR argued that “demographic change is not a strong argument to influence the choice between the status quo and independence”.


Mad Jock McMad
2014-04-22 07:32

I read about this last night in the Gruniad …

The man is a parody in his own life time.

Brown no longer has the respect of his constituents, let alone the Scottish Public at large. He is a self serving buffoon and ‘toom tabard‘, a ‘clunky fist‘ that could not get itself out of a wet paper bag.

If this is the last big throw of the Better Together dice then they really are desperate.
2014-04-22 07:54

75P to me that is one of the things I remember Brown for don’t forget he was going to save the WORLD as well.I have no respect for someone who when he thinks the mike is off slags a woman pensioner,also he did not have the decency to congratulate Mr Salmond on winning the election.
From The Suburbs
2014-04-22 08:09

No country has a fully funded pension scheme and the affordability depends on the economy and everyone admits that Scotland would be one of the richest nations on the planet.

If its geographic share of UK oil and gas output is taken into account, Scotland’s GDP per head is bigger than that of France. Even excluding the North Sea’s hydrocarbon bounty, per capita GDP is higher than that of Italy. Oil, whisky and a broad range of manufactured goods mean an independent Scotland would be one of the world’s top 35 exporters.

North Sea Brent Crude Oil price is up to $110 this morning and one year forecast is $120 a barrel…/…

Small Denmark is the world’s leading pension provider.…/10
2014-04-22 08:15

The man who ripped the heart out of the UK pension system thinks he is best placed to lecture Scots on pension affordability. Does he even now accept the damage he did? Or has the whole incident faded from his mind, especially when compared to saving the world.

I wonder if he still has the t-shirt with the big “S” on the front and does he still wear his underpants on top?
2014-04-22 08:22

Seems like BT has long since run out of new scares and is now recycling the old favourites but with a different ‘presenter’ each time. Even better when they can combine an old favourite like pensions with a defence-related term like ‘time bomb’.

But what I want to know from Brown and others who have been in charge of UK finances is why the state pension from such a supposedly wealthy and generous UK state is amongst the lowest in Western Europe and indeed a fair bit of Eastern Europe too..…/…
2014-04-22 08:42

Gordon Brown is reputed to be the worst Prime Minister ever, I do not know if that is wholly accurate but he is certainly one of the worst.

He introduced so many stealth taxes that my nickname for him was the “Pickpocket”. His raids on our pensions, selling our gold at a ludicrous price. Lax Financial regulations that helped lose us billions.

Just how does this utter failure have the brass neck to lecture us. He could not manage a sweetie stall in a run down outdoor market.
2014-04-22 08:42

Jim, Gordon, Ed and the cavalry charging forward to save the No Campaign.
Reminiscent of The Charge of the Light Brigade. Onward , onward rode the six hundred………….. I am sure you know the rest.
2014-04-22 08:59

148 days left to make the positive case for the Union. (Just a head’s up for Scottish Labour).

Seems they slept through the alarm or something.
2014-04-22 09:05

I notice that Culpability Brown refers to a ‘leaked’ DWP Report.

Does this not in fact refer to a report produced as one of the Westminster Government’s series of anti Independence reports commissioned at vast cost to the taxpers by 13 Government Departments but with a suggestion that Westminster is getting a bit sensitive re the use of taxpayers’ money to blacken Indpendence.

Can we now expect that all such reports emanating from Westminster will have been ‘leaked’ internal documents and that they are in no way part of the UK Govt’s campaign against Independence.
2014-04-22 09:12

As most people probably know,pensions in the UK are paid for out of annual taxation.
Oil represents a relatively small part of the Scottish tax take and in any case,I am sure he will have used worst case figures to make his case (OBR e.g.)
He should be explaining to Scottish pensioners and those to come,why the UK has one of the poorest state pensions in Europe.
He had the opportunity to do something about this when in power,so why didn’t he?
Talk about brass neck.
2014-04-22 09:13

Brown couldn’t organise a piss-up at a brewery.
2014-04-22 09:53

Bet he would tax it though…

2014-04-22 10:26

“Scotland pays 8% of UK National Insurance but receives “upwards of 9%” of the benefits”
Now would not that be a surprise if wages were lower in Scotland, unemployment was higher and people were less healthy? Do we know which years he is referring to? Perhaps it was during his watch.
2014-04-22 12:17

When it comes to pensions we are in trouble either way. People aren’t saving enough, the population is ageing, and today’s state pensions are paid out of today’s taxes, *not* historical NI contributions.

It is a problem we will have to face whether we are in the union or not… and Gordon Brown (aka the Pension Thief) has no solution to that.
2014-04-22 14:18

I don’t know if this cataclysmic message is for those with perspective. I suspect that Brown and the no campaign are going for the ‘low information voter’, someone who will read the headline, worry, then move on. There seems to be a targeted campaign of presenting scary (dis)informatio  n to key demographics that may be vulnerable to fear-mongering, such as women, the fiscally insecure and the worried older voter. They know they don’t have the facts or any relevant argument validating “better together”, so they seem to be abandoning reason and argument in favour of the big lie approach. This is both a complete admission of factual and moral defeat on their part, and a difficult strategy to fight, as it places the burden of countering it on the shoulders of those who essentially need to go out on the street and have the discussion with people who may not be seeking one. It reinforces the critical role of the grassroots campaign, but a campaign that needs to be everywhere.
2014-04-22 14:22

Talk about perfect timing – just as Gordon makes his big pitch on behalf of the No campaign – the Daily Express whips the carpet from under his feet!!! No doubt you will all be aware by now of the headlines South of the Border and those North of the Border. Well done Daily Express. Can’t stop laughing!!
2014-04-22 17:11

At the date of independence, the UK treasury owes every Scot on the point of retirement his full entitlement of pension. They also owe those who have paid NI contributions into the system within the UK up till that date the proportion of the state pension that they will have paid for. Quite a tidy sum for the rUK to find out of current taxation.
Why do they let buffoons like Brown, economically illiterate and unqualified in any useful subject, loose on the economy, first as Chancellor of the Exchequer, secondly Prime Minister and now to tell us Scotland’s got it wrong? He’ll increase the YES vote big time.
Auld Rock
2014-04-23 11:56

Hi Nautilus. Your theory is good except that all state benefits are paid from current account. Take myself as a pensioner with a superannuation pension plus my state pension where I find that the tax I pay on my superannuation comes right back to me as my state pension, in effect my state pension is worth zilch, nothing – good eh? And I’m not alone their are thousands of us in the same boat.

Auld Rock

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