Pension changes will have impact
How can Scots look to plan for retirement?
The Westminster government has again raised the pension age without fair warning, with an estimated half a million people in Scotland affected.
Those born between 1970 and 1978 will see their retirement age put back a year later – from 67 to 68. The retirement age was due to be increased, but has been brought in seven years earlier than planned, adversely affecting hundreds of thousands of our fellow Scots.
With changes to the state retirement age disproportionately affecting those without a private pension, this is just the latest attempt by the Tory government to balance the books on the backs of those on lower incomes. And again, because of Scotland’s lower life expectancy, this increase punishes those north of the border more than the rest of the UK.
In fact, on average, Scottish retirees will receive their pension for four fewer years than the UK average, so any increase in the pension has a much greater impact here than elsewhere. If it is not bad enough that Scots die earlier, they are also seeing less and less of their retirement too as the goalposts shift.
This is just the latest assault on people’s retirement plans, with the Tories at Westminster already changing the women’s’ pensionable age without suitable warning. The WASPI women have fought long and hard for a fair settlement that saw their retirement age change drastically, and without warning in a way that is very similar to this latest change in UK retirement age.
And, the Conservative manifesto at the last general election promised to scrap the triple-lock guarantee on pensions. This means that from 2020 onwards, the state pension will not rise at the same rate, meaning potentially lower pensions for retirees.
How can Scots look to plan for their retirement when the value of the pension is dropping and the retirement age is moving further off into the distance with every passing year?
Another issue that affects thousands of workers is the imposition of employment tribunal fees. This hugely unfair practice has been opposed by my SNP colleagues at Westminster, and in Scotland the SNP have committed to abolish these fees as they discourage those in difficult financial situations from making claims about unfair treatment in the workplace.
Thankfully, the Supreme Court has recently agreed with this view, and has ruled such fees unlawful. This is a blow to the regressive policy introduced by the Conservative and Lib Dem coalition, but is a fantastic development for ordinary working people across the country.
In other good news, the Scottish Government are funding a pilot scheme in Aberdeen to alleviate what has come to be known as “period poverty” where women cannot afford sanitary products because of their financial situation.
The pilot programme will look to support a thousand women in the Aberdeenshire area, including young women of school age, who are affected by the benefit cap brought in by the Tory government in Westminster.
The groundbreaking scheme will see women given a card that entitles them to free sanitary products that they can claim from supermarkets, pharmacies or doctor’s surgeries in the area.
It just shows that we in Scotland have a different set of priorities than the Westminster government. We want to protect our pensions, ensure that people get fair use of a system that they’ve paid into their whole lives, and we want to protect people from poverty while they’re of working age too.
Pension changes Clare Haughey MSP at a WASPI event in Glasgow last year