They can take our lives, but they’ll never take our … pensions?

John Griffin

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Anyone who is still paying attention to the Scottish independence “debate” may have noticed that it hit a new nadir a few weeks ago, when the UK government suggested that Scottish independence would result in higher mobile phone bills north of the border.

Maybe they had visions of a still-United Kingdom a few decades into the future, when a politically-conscious young Nigel from Auchtermuchty asks his father why his grandad Angus and granny Morag had voted against independence, and is told “Well son, it was a chance that only comes up every few centuries and may never come up again, for the people to change the destiny of this historic land, this land of legends, almost mythical in its haunting beauty, this land of Wallace, of Burns, of The Krankies, but the prospect of paying a few extra pence for mobile phone roaming charges in England was just too much to bear, so we stuck with the Union.  Now, eat up your jellied eels”.

More seriously (but not much more), there are reports of impending doom for UK pensions, should Scotland choose independence, following an ICAS report in April, which was measured and balanced but which appears to have provoked mild hysteria in some quarters.  The report raised valid concerns e.g about solvency issues for cross-border schemes, and about the need for a Scottish PPF, and there is no doubt that all of these issues will need to be addressed in the unlikely event of a “Yes to independence” vote; but we possibly didn’t need the scare-stories about (current) UK pension schemes having to immediately find upwards of £250bn to make their schemes fully funded.  The reality, as with all “big problems”, is that they will be dealt with.

Everyone with a passing interest in pensions knows that there are more than enough real pensions problems to deal with now, without involving Scottish independence; and anyone who wants to have a serious debate about Scottish independence should stick to the real issues.