The Pensions Dashboards Programme has today published its first full report on the progress made so far and what work still needs to be done before the service is launched to the public.
The aim is for dashboards to enable individuals to access information about multiple pension savings online, securely and all in one place, thereby supporting better planning for retirement and growing financial wellbeing.
Formerly known as the dashboard Industry Delivery Group, the Dashboards Programme was established by Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) in July 2019.
Chris Curry, principal of the Pensions Dashboards Programme at MaPS, said the vision “could not be simpler”, but that there were “significant” delivery challenges, “even more so in the current circumstances”.
He added: “Even when the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has decreased, timescales depend heavily on factors including technological developments and the progress of government legislation.”
According to Curry, the programme group had decided to defer data-related calls for input for the being. He said MaPS would engage with stakeholders “when the time is right”.
There was a plan for a clearer timeline by the end of the year, but a staged onboarding process is expected as this will allow data providers to get ready, Curry continued.
Action to be taken
MaPS said the Pensions Dashboards will be ready to launch to the public once several requirements are met:
- the security of the ecosystem is fully assured;
- the user experience has been thoroughly tested;
- user behaviours have been understood and any adverse impacts or unintended consequences mitigated;
- the service has coverage of enough pension memberships to meet users’ needs and be useful to a majority of people.
The report discloses the scale of the task – which involves 52 million adults being connected to up to around 40,000 providers and pension schemes.
Industry views will be sought later this year on the scope of dashboards and the data elements required from pension providers, according to MaPS.
The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) welcomed the progress update, particularly the programme’s commitment to work with the pensions industry to arrive at a set of data standards that are appropriate to the needs of savers and the many different types of pension arrangement that exist in the UK.
It noted that recent PLSA research showed over half of workers (54%) do not know the current size of their pension.
“Given the exceptionally challenging environment posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the PLSA agrees with the Pensions Dashboards Programme that it is best to defer the formal consultation period until the autumn so as to ensure extensive and deep engagement with the sector,” said Nigel Peaple, director of policy and research at the PLSA and a member of the programme’s steering group.
Lesley Carline, president at the Pensions Management Institute (PMI), said: “The approach taken by MaPS is pragmatic and thorough and, while it is obviously disappointing there is a lack of certainty on timelines, this unfortunately is unavoidable.
“As an industry we should continue to support its efforts and ensure we provide the information and guidance it requires to build a sustainable and usable solution. Where MaPS requires input and feedback, we must be sure to provide it; the onus is on us to be constructive rather than sit back and criticise.”
Gary Cowler, partner at Aon, said the consultancy “remains enormously supportive” of the programme, but noted that the biggest challenge is in providing estimated retirement benefits at a current date for DB schemes within the first phase of the programme.
“This will be a crucial area of consideration as, although the data exists to calculate this for each member, most schemes do not hold their data in a way that could currently support this,” he explained.
Paul McGlone, president of the Society of Pension Professionals, agreed.
“Populating the dashboards was always a question of priorities,” he said. “Some data for all schemes or all data for some schemes? Opting for a fair amount of data for all schemes, phased over three or four years, and only giving users access when most of it is there, is a sensible and pragmatic way forward.”
PMI’s Carline added: “As an industry we should continue to support its efforts and ensure we provide the information and guidance it requires to build a sustainable and usable solution. Where MaPS requires input and feedback, we must be sure to provide it; the onus is on us to be constructive rather than sit back and criticise.”
The progress report can be found here.