Information regarding obligations to provide State Pension after independence: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

"Can you provide me with any discussions or analysis conducted by the Scottish Government with respect to whether the Scottish Government or the U.K. Government has a legal obligation to provide state pensions after independence.”


Some of the information you have requested can be found below, however, while our aim is to provide information whenever possible, on this occasion we are unable to provide some of the information you requested as exemptions under the following sections of FOISA apply to that information:

·s. 25(1) (Information Otherwise Accessible)
·s. 29 (Formulation or Development of Government Policy)
·s.30(b)(i) (free and frank provision of advice)
·s. 38(1)(b) (Personal Information)

In relation to Information Otherwise Accessible, you may be interested in particular in pp42-43 of “Pensions in an Independent Scotland” published in 2013:

Please find extracts of the information found which relates to the request you have submitted.

Document one – Fiscal and Monetary Stability Cluster Pensions Coordination.

o [Out of scope] and can reassure the Scottish people that their savings and pension rights and entitlements will be protected on independence. Questions in relation to regulation, [Out of scope] compliance with EU and international law, and administration all require to be addressed. [Out of scope]
o Social security
o State pension policy and administration (entitlement, state pension age, etc)
o Payment of state pension to people overseas who are entitled to it
o The apportionment of state pension liability on independence
o 31 August 2017

Document two – Pensions: Issues and Challenges

o State pensions
o Background
o 14. UK Government proposals to introduce the single-tier state pension, as part of its wider agenda for pensions reform, formed the backdrop to the last independence referendum. The Pensions Act 2014 legislated for the single-tier state pension which was introduced in April 2016. This combined the basic state pension (BSP) and state second pension (S2P) to create a new ‘single-tier’ pension for individuals reaching state pension age (SPA) from April 2016. The Pensions Act also abolished the Pension Credit Savings Credit. Key features of the new state pension are:

o it is a single weekly amount (reflecting individual circumstances)
o you need at least 35 years National Insurance (NI) contributions or credits to get the full amount
o you need at least 10 years of contributions to qualify for the new State Pension
o those who have between 10 and 34 years of contributions will receive a proportion of the pension
o it focusses on individual entitlements, so in general there is no special rules for people who are married or in civil partnerships, bereaved or divorced.

o 15. The Scottish Government’s priority in relation to State Pensions was to reassure people that all accrued rights and entitlements would be protected on independence, and pensioners would continue to be paid in full and on time. This would remain our overriding priority in planning for another referendum. In addition, Scotland’s Future made a number of commitments in relation to the state pension.

The information has been presented in this way as the rest of each of the documents were either exempt for the reasons listed above or as the other information was out of scope.

Further information on the reasons why those exemptions apply are explained in the Annex to this letter, along with the links to several publications which detail information on pensions in an independent Scotland.

It is worth noting that while section 29 (Formulation or Development of Government Policy) has been applied to some of the information that falls under your request, policy work for independence matters has been paused due to the impact of COVID-19.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

FOI - 202000130448 - Information Released - Annex


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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