At the time of the 2014 referendum I was quite amazed by the fact that Project Fear spread the propaganda that pensions would be at risk under independence. They also told us, mainly through Gordon Brown, that we would have no access to the Blood Transfusion and Organ Donor scheme if we became independent. I decided to check up and try to find out for myself.
I can’t remember where on the internet I found it but I did find and read a letter from the DWP to the Scottish Government in which they stated that the pension has nothing to do with independence. It is a separate contract between the individual and the UK Government and the pension will still be paid by them even after independence. What they don’t pay is the Pension Credits part of the pension payments.
A comparison may be made with the large number of ex-pats who are living in Spain or Portugal or elsewhere and are still paid their state pensions. I have a friend who has lived in the Isle of Man for about 20 years. At age 72 he has just applied for the British state pension. (He already receives an Isle of Man pension.) They have agreed that he is entitled to it and are arranging for it to be back-dated seven years to correspond to his retirement age.
Of course, that letter was written at a time when we had a Westminster Government that didn’t welch on its previous agreements or that didn’t break international laws or treaties. Goodness only knows what this government will agree to or what it is prepared to ride roughshod over. No doubt these matters will be covered during negotiations in the inevitable “transition period” between the declaration of intent to become independent and the actual Independence Day. For instance, the Scottish Government could agree to take on these payments in lieu of a share of the national debt.
In the same way, I saw a letter from the Blood Donor Service in which it stated that the Scottish Government paid it separately from the UK for access to their services and that access will continue as long as the payments also continue. That seems to be independent of Westminster and therefore not reliant upon the untrustworthiness of the current Westminster Government.
READ MORE: SNP accuse Tories of plan to inflict ‘bitter winter’ on millions
I have to say I was very surprised when Alex Salmond didn’t wave those letters in Douglas Alexander’s face when he raised those issues during the TV debates.
I hope this might give you some confidence that, one way or another, you will receive your pension and, hopefully, it will be greater than your present pension.
I HAVE been the MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh since it was formed in 2011. In the face of 80 years of Labour domination I won with a majority of 2996 which I more than doubled in 2016 to 7035. In 2021, with the support of local activists, I am looking to break through the 10000 majority.
Among the public, locally, I have an 85% recognition and approval rating according to a pollster.
I owe a debt of gratitude to the many school pupils for the robust training they have provided when they have interrogated me on my many school visits. They have asked perceptive questions and it’s reassuring to know we have world-class apprenticeships, college and university places for them to progress to, based not on their family’s ability to pay but their ability to learn.
In my election manifesto in 2016 I pledged to protect jobs. Everyone deserves the opportunity for a decent livelihood. I have been successful in helping to attract jobs to the constituency and also have been able to use my financial and negotiating skills to save jobs when HMRC and the banks were seeking to close down businesses.
Community groups have benefited from my help and support whether by way of advice or identifying sources of funding for the valuable projects they deliver. We are fortunate in this constituency to have so many dedicated groups.
As a local councillor for five years and an MSP for nearly 10 years I have a huge range and depth of experience and very many contacts across the constituency, Scotland, and beyond. These contacts are invaluable for putting people and businesses in touch with each other and for gaining support for constituency issues. If someone has a problem I know where to go for a solution. Many referrals come by word of mouth and the vast majority are either resolved or the situation much improved.
Many female constituents born in the 1950’s have come for help and I am outraged by Westminster’s treatment of the WASPI women. This was a betrayal of a contract by the UK Government. I am fully supportive of equality and fairness for all. In pursuit of that and through the SNP Women’s Mentoring Project I am mentoring a lady who intends to stand for election in local government. We definitely need more women in local government and I am pleased to have a role in helping that to happen.
The job of MSP means sacrificing most of your personal life and it is vital that you make yourself available to the public when they need you – not when it is convenient to yourself. I work a basic 12 to 14-hour day and most weekends. It is not a job for the faint-hearted!
Working with people and for people is a great pleasure and it is a privilege to be able to do so.
Colin Beattie MSP