SNP members voted to commission a plan for pension increases in an independent Scotland

16th Oct 2019


At the SNP party conference, the SNP voted to increase the state pension in an independent Scotland to match the EU average.


The conference voted in favour of a resolution supporting the commissioning of a plan looking at how pension levels could be increased. It also mentioned that the OECD average should be set as a target.

A Facebook post shared thousands of times has claimed:

“At the annual party conference today, the SNP just voted to increase the state pension in an independent Scotland to match the EU average - £355 per week.”

The text was from a screenshot of a tweet which has also been shared over 700 times.

Earlier this week SNP party members at their annual conference voted to support the creation of a plan looking at pension levels in an independent Scotland. The resolution proposing this plan recommended setting pensions at 63% of pre-retirement earnings (the average in countries that are members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development).

They did not, as the Facebook post claimed, vote to increase pensions to match the EU average.

What happened at the SNP conference?

At the SNP conference this year one of the resolutions brought to be voted on by party members was to: “support the commissioning of a Scottish State Pension Plan, and let’s target the OECD average of 63% as the minimum for a Scottish state pension and deliver financial security and wellbeing to the pensioners of an independent Scotland.”

The resolution passed overwhelmingly.

During the speech introducing the resolution, more detail was given on the reasoning behind it: “The UK state pension is ranked the lowest in the developed world, this is according to the 2017 OECD report looking into pensions.

“The study calculated that the typical British worker would, at retirement, receive a state pension and other benefits worth around 29% of what they had previously earned…

“You could have doubled the UK state pension and still not have met the OECD average of 63%”.

So rather than voting to increase the state pension in an independent Scotland, the conference voted to support the commissioning of a plan looking into this.

What did the OECD say?

It is correct that a 2017 OECD report found that “full-career average earners” in the UK could expect 29% replacement from “mandatory parts of the pension system”. That was compared to an OECD average of 63% and was the lowest of any of the 35 OECD countries in the study.

As we’ve said before when fact checking claims about pensions, differences in pension systems between countries mean it’s not always fair to compare them in this way.

Here the OECD looked at pension schemes for private sector workers only. The data covers compulsory pension schemes whether they were public or private pensions, and schemes which covered at least 85% of pensioners, like those found in Denmark and the Netherlands.

The OECD also looked at the level of wage replacement for these pensioners once voluntary pensions were taken into account. By this measure the UK ranked 22 of the 35 OECD countries with a rate of 62%—still below the OECD average of 69% but far from the lowest (Mexico at around 30%) and similar to countries including New Zealand, Japan and the Czech Republic.

These figures don’t tell us anything about the actual amount pensioners in each country would receive in relation to each other, just how that compares as a percentage of their former earnings.

We’re looking into what a pension set at this 63% level would mean for pensioners in Scotland, and will publish more at a later date.