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Independence: SNP appeals to hard-hit pensioners to vote Yes after Tory benefit cuts

Latest polls put No campaign slightly ahead as Yes Scotland loses ground

Scotland's SNP government yesterday appealed for a Yes vote in next month’s independence referendum on the grounds that thousands of hard-saving Scottish pensioners are worse off since the Tory-led coalition started cutting benefits.

But a leading political analyst said the Yes campaign “seems to have stalled” as the latest poll of polls showed that it still trails No by 43 per cent to 57 per cent.

SNP work and pensions spokeswoman Eilidh Whiteford published House of Commons research showing that 50,000 Scottish pensioners have lost benefits since 2010 with a cut of £90 million to savings credit.

Ms Whiteford said: “It’s a real shame that Scottish pensioners who have put savings away for their old age are being hit in this way.

“Following a Yes vote in September, we can make Scotland’s wealth work for the people who live here — which includes a fairer welfare system and a better deal for our pensioners.”

The Scottish government has pledged a guaranteed pension of £160 a week from 2016-17, a triple lock and the continuation of savings credit in an independent Scotland.

Westminster pensions minister Steve Webb said that the state pension is at its highest level in over 20 years and challenged the SNP to explain how it will fund its “extravagant benefits.”

The latest polling evidence suggests that the Yes campaign is failing to persuade Scots in sufficient numbers to vote for independence on September 18.

An analysis of the six most recent opinion polls in the run-up to next week’s head-to-head TV debate between First Minister Alex Salmond and Better Together leader Alistair Darling shows the Yes vote trailing by 14 per cent.

Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University told the Independent, which commissioned the research: “The Yes campaign seems to have stalled while still significantly short of its destination.

“Unless Alex Salmond can begin to turn those numbers around, it looks as though Scotland will opt to stay in the union, albeit perhaps by a margin that some unionists may find rather less than comfortable.”

Banking giant RBS has repeated its warning of a “material adverse effect” on its business if Scots vote in favour of independence.

The bank said a Yes vote could significantly impact the group’s credit ratings as well as the fiscal, monetary, legal and regulatory landscape to which the business is subject.


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