The UK government has not committed itself to a timetable for when a pensions dashboard will be operational, it said today.
Baroness Buscombe, parliamentary under-secretary for work and pensions, said “feasibility work” was nearing completion, but highlighted the complexity of the issue in developing the online tool.
“The more we look at it, the more questions we are asking ourselves and the industry,” she said, responding to questions in the House of Lords, the UK parliament’s upper chamber.
The government has received criticism in the past week since a UK newspaper report claimed the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was considering abandoning support for a dashboard, which would collate all an individual’s pension savings and entitlements.
“We want to be careful to cover all the challenges associated with the dashboard, such as funding, governance as well as what role the government might have and whether legislation is necessary,” Baroness Buscombe said.
She added that her department was also looking at experiences overseas to understand more of the concept of a pensions dashboard.
Baroness Buscombe also stated that any decision to force pension providers to partipate in the tool – as suggested by Labour peer Lord Bill McKenzie during questions – would depend on several issues, including the functionality of the dashboard, the delivery model, and its governance.
She said that the government’s views on this would be set out “in due course”.
Lord McKenzie had urged the government not to change tack on the dashboard plan, adding that the DWP should have ownership of the online tool.
Baroness Susan Kramer of the Liberal Democrats suggested that the government was dragging its feet on the dashboard.
“The industry is – to put it mildly – cross, having done all of the work that it needed to contribute towards creating a pensions dashboard,” the peer said.
Baroness Buscombe referred to the country’s online pensions tracing service to help people locate details of legacy pension pots, as well as the website Check Your State Pension. She added that the DWP planned to launch a Single Financial Guidance Body next year, to replace the numerous bodies offering guidance on different areas of personal finance.
The dashboard’s development
The concept of a dashboard to collate all an individual’s pension savings and entitlements was first suggested by former chancellor George Osborne in 2016. At the time, he said the tool would be up and running in 2019.
Current pensions and financial inclusion minister Guy Opperman last year promised government support for the project, which has been developed so far by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and technology firm Origo. He also reiterated the 2019 target.
However, last week the Times newspaper reported that Esther McVey, the UK’s state secretary for work and pensions, was considering abandoning her department’s work on the tool in favour of other welfare reforms.
The ABI said that the government risked exposing millions to fraud and lost pension pots if it abandoned its support of the pensions dashboard.
More than 87,000 people have signed an online petition urging the government to support the project.
The ABI and Origo have been working on prototypes for a dashboard for two years. Last month, Origo announced it had successfully tested a version for use by up to 15m pension savers.