Thursday, 17 May 2007

Priorities - war, nuclear weapons or people?

A report published today by a House of Commons committee shows that between £1.5bn and £2.1bn of Pension Credit is not being claimed by those who are entitled to it, across the UK.

So, the Treasury has it's mitts on money that should be in the hands of the poorest pensioners.

And who is the architect of this pension scheme?

A scheme that leaves 1 in 5 pensioners living in poverty...

A scheme that subjects pensioners to the indignity of means-testing...

A scheme that leaves pensioners in need without the money they are entitled to...

Why, it's Gordon Brown of course!

One of the many reasons I support independence is that it would enable Scotland to ensure all of our pensioners have the security of a decent minimum in retirement, as of right. With independence we would have the powers to introduce a Citizen's Pension that would be payable to all pensioners, based on simple residency requirements (like the New Zealand pension).

A Citizen's Pension would tackle pensioner poverty, eliminate the means-test for a decent pension, end discrimination against women in the state pensions system and provide a solid foundation on which to save for retirement. Sounds great, doesn't it? But it also sounds expensive - could we really afford it?

Well, Gordon Brown doesn't think so. He says it would be unaffordable... But hang on a minute, he could 'afford' to spend billions on an illegal war in Iraq and he must think he can afford to spend billions on the new nuclear weapons and useless ID cards he has promised.

The 'affordability' of most things depends on your priorities. I think it's clear what Gordon's are.

Ensuring our pensioners do not have to live in poverty is certainly a priority for me, and for the SNP. The SNP's plans for a Citizen's Pension are not only affordable (even within existing spending on pensions), they are also essential if we, as a society, are to treat our older citizens with the dignity and respect they deserve.

It's time for Scotland to gain its independence, so that we can give pensioners theirs.

No comments: