The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has re-confirmed its support for the creation of a pensions dashboard built by the pensions industry.
In an announcement yesterday (Tuesday 4 September 2018), Parliamentary under secretary of state for pensions and financial inclusion, Guy Opperman (pictured), stated that an industry-led pensions dashboard, facilitated by the government, would be able to take advantage of the best of industry innovation.
Steve Webb, director of policy at Royal London, said: “This announcement is a huge breakthrough after a period of uncertainty. There is much that the industry can do to deliver a dashboard, but only the government can supply vitally important state pension data and only the government can legislate to make sure that the dashboard’s coverage is comprehensive. Backed by this renewed commitment by the government, the whole pension industry now needs to work together to drive forward this much-needed initiative.”
Opperman further agreed that the government will continue to work with industry experts on the dashboard’s creation, and that it will work to protect pension members and their personal information by legislating where necessary. In addition, the government will shortly be publishing its findings from the feasibility study.
The pensions dashboard project, which was initially due to be rolled out in April 2019, will build upon the government’s ‘Check your state pension’ online service.
Kate Smith, head of pensions at Aegon, added: “We’ve always been a supporter of the pension dashboard and believe it has the potential for people not only to keep track of their pension pots but also to start to drive up pension engagement. The whole point of the pension dashboard is so people can see all their pensions online in one place. Government needs to facilitate this by legislating to compel all schemes and the state to provide pension detail when asked to do so. Without this the pension dashboard risks being half-baked.
“For the time being we remain cautiously optimistic that government support continues and await the publication of the feasibility study which is key to the industry being able to move forward with developing the dashboard initiative.”
The pensions dashboard aims to allow pension savers to access their pension information in a clear and simple format, bringing together all of an individual’s pension pots in a single online platform. The project was originally confirmed in the Spring Budget 2016.
In July 2018, work and pensions secretary Esther McVey was rumoured to oppose the pensions dashboard, which led to a petition to save the project. The petition gained around 125,000 signatures; however, McVey has now also announced her support for an industry-led pensions dashboard.
Scott Finnie, product architect at Hymans Robertson, said: “It’s great news for the industry, as this announcement is essentially an acknowledgement that government will get behind supporting secure, consistent access to pensions and savings data; in other words creating common data protocols that are easily accessible. Fortunately, some of these already exist. In that context the government’s decision to press ahead won’t stall innovation in the industry, and some providers have made clear their intentions to provide their own dashboard. Instead it should catalyse it.
“But there will be challenges ahead which will require creativity and innovation. Not least creating engaging portals that people can interact with effortlessly to secure a better future. Another challenge will be getting hold of legacy [defined benefit] data.
“However, the potential benefit to consumers is huge and the benefit to the industry in reducing administration costs through free flowing and secure data is also huge. So, this is a great opportunity for the industry to make a change; to embrace data privacy, security and cutting edge technology to forge a better future retirement for ordinary people.”