With the countdown to the September 2014 independence referendum now well under-way, Age Scotland is calling on older people across the country to put their questions to both the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigns.
Age Scotland has long been clear that Scotland’s independence referendum is not in its own right a later life issue, and understands that older people will hold as many different opinions about it as any other age group. But there will be some matters that older people tells us are of particular interest to them that may be affected by a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ vote.
The most clear cut instances are those where powers are currently reserved by Westminster, such as State Pension and Welfare Benefits. Under independence Scotland and the remaining UK could take different approaches to these. But while Age Scotland is not wholly satisfied with the current Westminster approach to pensions and benefits, the Charity does not believe that independence is a necessary precondition for addressing any shortcomings.
With regard to areas that are currently devolved, including policing, housing, health and social care, independence will add few if any further strings to the Scottish Parliament’s bow. Here the moot point will be whether having full responsibility for taxation and spending would prove advantageous, or disadvantageous, to policy in such areas. Yet the Scottish Parliament has never used its existing power to vary income tax by plus or minus 3p in every pound. And from 2016, under the Scotland Act, it will be able to set a new Scottish rate of income tax and enjoy borrowing powers worth £5bn.
Age Scotland is inviting older people to submit their questions for both the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ referendum campaigns by 28th February 2014. Each will be sent an identical list of questions, and their responses will be published online and in the summer edition of our Advantage magazine. Your question might related to one of the topics mentioned in this article, but doesn’t need to – we don’t presume to know what’s on every older person’s mind! Wherever possible questions will be presented in the form we receive them, however should we receive similar questions on a topic we may need to edit these into a single questions. If we receive lots of responses we may also need to prioritise issues which are the most popular question choices.
Age Scotland believes that older people deserve the opportunity to hear from both sides on the issues that matter to them. So please send your questions, and encourage others to send theirs – if not online then by post to: Advantage, Age Scotland, Causewayside House, 160 Causewayside, Edinburgh, EH9 1PR or by calling the Communications Team on 0845 833 0200.