Yesterday (Thursday 4 April 2019), the government published its response to the Pensions dashboards: Working together for the consumer consultation, which ran between 3 December 2018 and 28 January 2019. The response document outlines the government’s course of action and how it plans to contribute to the fruition of the pensions dashboard.
The initial implementation phase of the pensions dashboard will be spearheaded by the Single Financial Guidance Body (SFGB), which launched in January 2019. It will establish a delivery group of stakeholders and appoint a senior team; this will allow for a steering group to be formed to set the strategic direction of the project. The delivery group will also be responsible for developing a plan on how to execute the pensions dashboard project.
The government response further detailed the role of the pensions industry, advising that schemes should start preparing data now in order to achieve a delivery timeframe of between three and four years. It also suggested that the industry engage with the project at the earliest opportunity, offering to supply data on a voluntary basis prior to being compelled, and for businesses that may be developing dashboards already or that are interested in doing this, to liaise with the delivery group.
The government stated that it will support the pensions dashboard by putting forward primary legislation to require pension schemes to make members’ data available to them through their chosen dashboard. However, schemes providing data will need to be brought on to the dashboard in stages for practical reasons.
The response confirmed that state pension information should be part of the dashboard, and that any organisation other than the SFGB that wishes to provide a dashboard will need to be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
The report stated that the focus for 2019 will be for the pensions industry to create and test a consumer-facing dashboard, presenting information to members in such a way as to increase understanding of pensions savings. To achieve this, the delivery group will focus on the digital architecture of the project, testing user interfaces, gauging what data standards need to be set and creating a governance system that will monitor and safeguard all parties involved with the creation and use of the dashboard, ensuring that information is protected. The delivery group will also work with the industry on its readiness to provide data via dashboards.
The government reported that a controlled testing period will likely be used before the dashboard can be fully rolled out. The phased roll-out will schedule schemes to start participating in stages, gradually moving from the testing stage to a live dashboard. The level of detail and amount of information on the dashboard will increase over time and more complex functions will also be added in due course.
The first phase of the project has been designed to act as a foundation, giving pension members clear information.
John Wilson, senior consultant at Mercer, said: “The dashboard has the potential to revolutionise how individuals access their savings, but to have maximum effect, savers will need to have a comprehensive picture of their pots, including the state pension, [defined contribution] pensions and [defined benefit] pensions. We understand that this cannot all be built in immediately, though. Therefore, an evolving dashboard, in our view, gradually moving towards a comprehensive dashboard is better than no dashboard, or a long delay until all the infrastructure is in place.”
Helen Morrissey, pensions specialist at Royal London, added: “After years of talk about the pension dashboard we need to ensure that what is delivered meets people’s expectations from the start. If done properly, the dashboard will give people a full understanding of what they have saved. If it is rushed, or we don’t have all interested parties on board from the beginning, there is a risk that we will not be able to deliver something meaningful or credible and the opportunity to engage people will be lost.
“In addition, the government’s plan to provide a link to state pension is simply not good enough; pressure needs to be put on [HM Revenue and Customs] to get the state pension data integrated from day one if the dashboard is to work. The opportunity presented by the dashboard is too important to be lost: we must get it right first time.”
Adrian Boulding, director of policy at Now: Pensions, said: “To tackle the growing challenge of small pension pots, the dashboard needs to be built with the functionality to allow all savers to easily consolidate their smallest posts with a simple drag and drop. The dashboard will only work if it provides a genuinely holistic view of the entirety of an individual’s pension entitlements, including the state pension.
“We strongly believe that the dashboard should be compulsory, and hope the government can navigate this legislation speedily through the current choppy water in Parliament.”