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UK pension dashboard petition gains momentum [updated]

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A petition urging the UK government not to scrap plans for a pension dashboard has gained attention for the amount of signatures it has garnered. 

The petition, addressed to Esther McVey, state secretary for work and pensions, has been signed by more than 100,000 people on the campaigning platform 38 Degrees.

The threshold is a critical one for petitions filed on a government platform, but a spokesman for the DWP said that, on a procedural note, the 38 Degrees website “was not the correct channel to get something debated in parliament”.

Feasibility work on the dashboard was ongoing and a report would be published in due course, he added.

Some media outlets had suggested the support for the petition would mean it would be debated in parliament.

According to a government webpage on petitions, petitions filed via the government petitions service will be considered for debate if they garner 100,000 signatures. Petitions with this much support are almost always debated, the webpage states.

The 38 Degrees-hosted petition was created last month after a UK newspaper reported that McVey was considering abandoning the DWP’s work on the pension dashboard, which would collate all an individual’s pension savings and entitlements.

The UK pensions sector quickly rallied behind the dashboard in response to the July development and reports today of the 38 Degrees petition’s momentum triggered a similar reaction.

“The dashboard really needs to happen if the government wants people to save enough for a decent retirement income,” said Anna Rogers, partner at ARC Pensions Law.

“We can’t stop pensions being confusing and a turn off but we can make it easier to get all the information in one place and that would surely help.”

Someone needed to start a petition on the dashboard through official channels, she added, with the petition on the 38 Degrees platform seeming to be “eminently suitable” to be debated in parliament.  

Kate Smith, head of pensions at Aegon, said the 38 Degrees-hosted petition – whether it was the right channel or not to trigger a parliamentary debate – had generated welcome publicity for the dashboard.

“It’s raised awareness about the need for the pension dashboard, what it does, and not just kept it within the industry,” she said.

The pensions industry was eagerly awaiting the feasibility study, which had been “delayed and delayed,” added Smith.

Late last month Baroness Buscombe, parliamentary under-secretary for work and pensions, said the feasibility work was nearing completion but that it had been raising many questions. 

The 38-degrees hosted petition had been signed by more than 128,000 people at the time of writing. 

“A huge petition signed by thousands of us will show the government we expect them to keep their promises and continue to roll out the pensions dashboard,” it reads.

[This article was updated to clarify that the 38 Degrees-hosted petition is not eligible for being debated in parliament]

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