Information

State pension and benefit payment responsibilities: FOI release

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


Information requested

1. The source content and date of the secret cabinet briefing paper from John Swinney Finance Secretary (at the time) that was subsequently leaked.

2. Since 1 January 2012, any briefing papers, communications etc that clarified or otherwise that Scotland, if independent, would be responsible for the payment of pensions (and other state benefits) as it saw fit, from national insurance and tax contributions from Scottish residents.

3. Since 1 January 2012, any briefing papers, communications etc that clarified or otherwise that after separation the UK would be responsible for the payment of pensions and other state benefits in an independent Scotland.

4. Documents published by ScotGov, The White Paper and Pensions In An Independent Scotland, both categorically stated that state pensions in an independent Scotland would be the sole responsibility of the Scottish Government. Given that those promises/assurances and guarantees are now very much in doubt following recent public statements by the first minister and the finance secretary, can you provide copies/content/correspondence of any official documents that show the reason for this shift in ScotGov policy or confirm there is no shift in ScotGov policy?

5. Since 1 January 2012, can you confirm if the finance secretary or any other minister in the Scottish Government has ever written to the UK Government (any office or minister ie Treasury/Sunak etc) asking for confirmation that the UK would be responsible for and continue to pay Scottish residents their state pensions in an independent Scotland?

6. Since 1 January 2012, has the Scottish Government received any official UK communications confirming that following Scottish independence, Scotland would be responsible for Scottish residents state pensions?

Response

Part 1
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide the information you have requested because exemptions under Section 29(1)(b) (Ministerial communications) and Section 30(b)(ii) (the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained in Annex B.

Part 2
Some of the information you have requested is included at Annex A. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, an exemption under Section 29(1)(a) Formulation or development of government policy of FOISA applies to a small amount of the information requested. The reason why this exemption applies is explained in Annex B of this letter.

Part 3, 4, 5 and 6
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we cannot do so. This is because after an extensive search of our records, we have not identified any information in scope of your request.

The First Minister has stated that the Scottish Government’s position has not changed and this has been widely reported in the media. I can therefore confirm that the Scottish Government’s position on State Pensions in an independent Scotland remains the same as that set out in the 2013 publication Scotland’s Future Your Guide to an Independent Scotland.

This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not hold some of the information you have requested.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG

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