The Scottish Government has failed to provide the evidence that it can fund the pensions it has promised under independence, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has warned.
Mr Brown said a Yes vote for independence would mean the loss of the “pooling and sharing” of resources which help pay for state pensions and other benefits for retired people.
He said he did not believe the SNP administration’s assertions that pensions would continue to be paid, pointing to questions over the value of North Sea oil revenues in the coming years.
The Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath Labour MP said the issue presented the third major problem for Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, following questions over an independent Scotland’s entry into the EU and the prospects of forming a currency union with the rest of the UK.
Mr Brown was speaking to an audience of pensioners at an event in Lochgelly, Fife, to launch the campaign group Keep our British Pensions.
He said: “We know when we look at the figures for pensions, we in Scotland get a higher share of the UK pension money.”
Mr Brown said that when pensioners’ credit, the winter fuel allowance and free television licences are added to the state pension, Scots receive around £200 more on average each year than their English counterparts.
He said: “Why does that happen? It happens because we pool all of our resources as part of the United Kingdom.
“We pay our national insurance and we pay our taxes so that we can pay for our pensions later.
“We have more needs (in Scotland) and more pensioners, therefore we get more.”
Mr Brown continued: “The SNP know that they have got a problem... the rising demand for pensions, set against the money that they have, means there is greater volatility in social security spending.”
“They haven’t answered the basic problem – you have paid into your pension, into the UK Exchequer all your lives, you’ve paid your national insurance, you’ve paid your taxes so that you have a right to a pension.
“You are expecting, quite rightly, that you will get a British pension – but if there is independence, the British pension stops, the national insurance fund that you’re paying into is broken up.”
The SNP described Mr Brown’s comments as “scaremongering”.
Deputy First Minister and SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon said: “The last person anyone in Scotland will take lessons from when it comes to pensions is Gordon Brown – the man who destroyed final-salary pension schemes with his £100 billion raid, and insulted our older folk with a miserly 75p increase in the state pension.
“The Scottish government has set out clearly and unambiguously that people will continue to receive the pension entitlements they have built up.”