UK pension schemes will be legally obliged to provide data to new “pension dashboards” under a proposed government framework published today.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said it was “committed to compelling schemes to provide information” through dashboards, and urged pension schemes and providers to begin getting data ready for the first models to be tested this year.
A dashboard delivery group will be set up this year under the supervision of the Money and Pensions Service, a government-backed consumer guidance body. This group will then oversee the development of the dashboard project.
Legislation would be put to parliament “at the earliest opportunity” to allow for compulsion, the DWP said.
Amber Rudd, secretary of state for work and pensions, said in a written statement to parliament this morning that the government expected to see the first workable models developed and tested this year, although pension schemes would be given three or four years to prepare their data for inclusion.
Rudd added that the dashboard project would eventually “enable people to access their pension information in a single place online, in a clear and simple form”.
“Putting individuals in control of their data, pensions dashboards will bring together all pensions information from multiple sources, which can then be accessed at a time of their choosing,” she said. “Our priority is to ensure that information is presented securely, in a clear and simple format to support consumers with their retirement planning.”
In its report, the DWP said it expected multiple dashboards to become available from commercial and non-commercial providers, but emphasised that all models would be based on the same “digital architecture” and would display “the same basic information from the same number of schemes”.
The department also outlined its expectations for data security, user testing, system design and how each party in the system would be held accountable for providing data.
How the industry reacted
“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 & 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.”
– Helen Morrissey, pension specialist, Royal London
“This response from the government marks the beginning of the next phase of the pensions dashboard. But let’s not dwell for too long, because we now need to get our collective heads down and crack on if we’re to develop something that really delivers for pension savers.
“As always there is a balance to be struck between innovation and consumer protection, but we think the proposal to permit multiple dashboards is a positive step and dovetails nicely with the modern way in which people manage their finances.”
– Darren Philp, director of policy and communication, Smart Pension
“The pension dashboard is a real game-changer for customers and their engagement with pensions. The dashboard is essential for those who are actively saving into a pension, and for those who have pensions they are no longer contributing to. People will be able to view all of their pension saving information instantly in one place which will make it easier for them to keep track and plan for their future. In time, this could even see the end of the industry-wide issue of lost pension pots.”
– David Woollett, head of customer strategy and oversight, Phoenix
“We need the pensions dashboard because we need to bring pensions out of the digital stone age. By doing so, the potential for savers is enormous… It won’t be easy, but the achievement of great things never is. With the government now fully committed, and with a sensible route map to success, all must now move forward with confidence, purpose and ambition.”
– Alistair McQueen, head of savings and retirement, Aviva
“The pensions dashboard has the potential to fundamentally change the way people think, feel and interact with their pension savings. But simply providing a window to view savings isn’t enough. To tackle the growing challenge of small pension pots, the dashboard needs to be built with the functionality to allow savers to easily consolidate their smallest pots 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 waters in parliament.”
– Adrian Boulding, director of policy, NOW: Pensions
The pension dashboard: a roller-coaster journey
The dashboard concept has had a volatile early-stage development. Last summer, a UK newspaper reported that the previous work and pensions secretary, Esther McVey, was considering ditching the project in favour of other welfare reforms.
However, in a remarkable show of support, the pensions sector rallied behind the idea and nearly 90,000 people signed an online petition calling for the government to reconsider. It subsequently backed the dashboard concept but put the emphasis on the industry to develop the models.
In a feasibility study published in December, the government made it clear that the pension industry would foot the bill – although chancellor Philip Hammond pledged £5m of government funds to help development work.
The Association of British Insurers – which has been leading work on the dashboard concept since 2015, along with technology firm Origo – said in its response to the government’s consultation that dashboards were “seen by the industry as a cost to be incurred for the benefit of consumers”.