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ICAS: Questions remain over impact of Scottish independence on pensions

The Scottish government has failed to answer key questions about the impact independence would have on UK pensions, accountancy trade body ICAS has warned.

A referendum asking whether Scotland should remain as part of the UK will be held on 18 September this year. The prospect of Scottish independence has led to uncertainty about the impact it will have on financial services, particularly pensions.

In a bid to address this uncertainty the Scottish government published a white paper setting out the implications of a “yes” vote.

This included details of plans to introduce a £160 a week single-tier state pension for future retirees and create a Scottish version of the National Employment Savings Trust to support automatic enrolment.

However, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland says it remains unclear who would be responsible for funding “cross border” defined benefit schemes which have a deficit. Under EU law, cross border schemes must be fully funded.

It says the three-year transition period proposed by the Scottish government for schemes to become fully funded is “wholly insufficient”.

The trade body also raises concerns about the feasibility of an independent Scotland sharing the Pension Protection Fund with the UK while also creating its own pensions regulator, and warns calculating state pension entitlements at the point of independence will create “additional complexity”.

ICAS executive director, technical policy and practice support David Wood says: “Security in retirement is a significant issue for the Scottish public.  Everyone has concerns over whether or not they have the appropriate arrangements to provide for their retirement.  

“ICAS has taken a neutral stance in the independence debate but we will continue to call for answers to important questions to ensure that the Scottish people are better informed.”  

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  1. From the headlines they generate, ICAS don’t sound like they have taken a “neutral stance” at all.

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