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Saga poll finds three-quarters of UK over-50s against a split

NEARLY three-quarters of the UK's over-50s are opposed to Scottish independence, according to a new poll.

MICHAEL SETTLEUK POLITICAL EDITOR
MICHAEL SETTLEUK POLITICAL EDITOR

And while support for Scotland leaving the Union is higher north of the border among the age group, there is still a substantial majority, 65 per cent, opposed to it.

The survey was undertaken earlier this month by Populus for Saga, which caters for the needs of the over-50s from holidays to insurance, and involved more than 10,000 people across the UK. Saga said it was the largest ever undertaken on independence.

The snapshot found across the UK that 73 per cent of people wanted Scotland to stay part of the Union, 11 per cent supported independence while 16 per cent were undecided.

Saga pointed out that since a similar poll in January, support for independence among the over-50s had been "on the slide".

Since then, when almost 9700 people were polled, support for independence was down six per cent, support for the UK was up 17 per cent while the don't knows were down 11 per cent.

The latest survey showed in Scotland support for independence among the over-50s was higher at 28 per cent but a significant majority, 65 per cent, was in favour of remaining within the UK while the undecideds totalled just seven per cent.

The findings also showed opposition to independence grew with age. While across the UK 67 per cent of 50 to 59-year-olds were against Scotland breaking away, among those aged 80 to 89 opposition was at 82 per cent.

The poll also asked about the first TV head to head between First Minister Alex Salmond and Better Together leader Alistair Darling. This showed that 16 per cent of respondents felt it had made them less likely to vote for independence while eight per cent said it had made them more likely to. Almost half, 46 per cent, said it had made no difference.

Saga's Paul Green said: "It appears the nation's over-50s north and south of the border want the UK to stay united and their votes are likely to be crucial to the outcome of the poll.

"Of course, the acid test will be found in the privacy of the polling booth and with the impact of the second TV debate still to fully emerge there could be all to play for in the last days of campaigning," he added.

Meantime, Gregg McClymont, Labour's pensions spokesman, has called on Mr Salmond to come clean on the funding and affordability of pensions in an independent Scotland, after members of Scottish Labour's Shadow Cabinet challenged him to provide greater clarity on the issue.

With just over three weeks to go to polling day, the Cumbernauld MP said questions remained over the arrangements for state pensions in an independent Scotland and the implications of EU regulations on cross-border pension schemes, which could see up to 3000 occupational schemes facing funding shortfalls.

The future of UK bodies such as the Pension Protection Fund, which pays and manages the pensions of 24,000 Scots, was also unclear, he insisted.

"Given that we don't even know what currency pensions will be paid with in an independent Scotland, is it really any wonder that people don't trust Salmond and Swinney on pensions?" asked Mr McClymont. "The UK has always paid pensions on time and in full. Against that, we have Alex Salmond's assertion that everything will be fine. It just isn't good enough."

He added: "The people of Scotland deserve to hear the truth about the implications of independence on their pensions and savings in retirement; if we vote to leave the UK, we vote to leave the UK's pensions system."

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