The Scottish government’s white paper on the future of Scotland in the event of a ‘yes’ to the referendum on independence failed to address the challenges of funding pension schemes, according to the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS).

Earlier this year ICAS produced a paper, Scotland’s Pensions Future, which looked at the issues surrounding breaking up the UK pension schemes. ICAS executive director UK and global member engagement Atholl Duncan told The Accountant at the time: "We looked at what the situation would be and how European laws and regulations would impact on the pension schemes that would have to be created in an independent Scotland. There were a lot of big issues flushed out of that."

One of the main issues highlighted in the ICAS paper was the funding requirements. "The ICAS paper identified as a cause for concern the effects of EU rules on those UK-wide defined-benefit pension schemes which would become cross-border in the case of a ‘yes’ vote. Under EU rules, such schemes would face enormous, immediate funding requirements," an ICAS spokesperson said.

The ICAS spokesperson said the white paper rightly calls for immediate discussions on this issue, although it hasn’t provided definitive answers.

"[The white paper] does not bring us any closer to understanding the extent of funding requirements which would crystallize in the event of independence."

Nevertheless the possibility of an independent Scotland is still a long way down the road as latest polls suggest that the ‘no’ campaign is still nine points ahead of the ‘yes’ campaign.

But Duncan said: "At the moment it seems unlikely that that would be the outcome [a ‘yes’ win in the referendum], but it’s not impossible that it could be the outcome."

Related link

ICAS Scottish independence debate

Scotland’s Future: Scottish parliament white paper

The Accountant UK survey 2013