First pensions dashboard set for launch in 2019, says government report

Guy-Opperman

The first version of the pensions dashboard is set to be launched next year, according to feasibility report and consultation into the project conducted by the government. The dashboard will be designed to give individuals information on how much they have in their pension pots and the funds they can expect to access when they reach retirement.

The report, published on 3 December 2018, also states that multiple dashboards will be introduced in the following years, subject to the necessary consumer protections being in place.

Guy Opperman (pictured), minister for pensions and financial inclusion, said: “Pensions dashboards are another major milestone in our radical pension reforms, harnessing innovative technology to benefit savers. Plain pensions information at the touch of a screen will ensure better-informed, more engaged savers and help many more people to plan effectively for retirement.”

The report, which forms the first step for consultation on delivery models and governance for the dashboard, states that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) considers there to be a compelling case for compulsory participation in the dashboard, and will seek to legislate when parliamentary time allows.

The DWP also says that state pension data should form part of the service, and that there may be merit in exempting some schemes from compulsory participation, while leaving it open for them to join on a voluntary basis.

In a consultation that will close on 28 January 2019, the government is now seeking views regarding what the new services should look like, and how they should work; consumer protection and safeguarding data are to be its top priorities.

Opperman said: “Bringing pensions information into the digital age has the potential to revolutionise the way we all think about and plan for later life. People, young and old, should have all the help they need to get ready for retirement and maximise their pension incomes and, working with industry, we will ensure they do.”

The DWP has expressed its intention to legislate in a way that supports a phased approach to onboarding over a reasonable timeframe. The dashboard is to be funded by the pensions industry, but the DWP emphasised the importance of the service being free to access for consumers.

Steven Cameron, pensions director at Aegon, said: “[The topic of] pensions dashboards has spent much of the year stuck in heavy traffic with very little movement. There’s been a great willingness from the pensions industry and others to make progress, but until now it’s been held up by one too many red lights.

“The feasibility study is, however, offering hope. It’s positive to have confirmation that state pensions data will be included, albeit with an unknown timescale. Similarly, we welcome the signals that government will compel schemes to provide data, even though the timeline is dependent on parliamentary time and is, at this stage, unknown.”

The report states that governance of the initial non-commercial project will be handed to a soon-to-be-launched Single Financial Guidance Body (SFGB).

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Gregg McClymont, director of policy for not-for-profit financial services organisation B&CE, provider of the People’s Pension, welcomed the move. He said: “I applaud government for recognising that such a complex and sensitive project as [the] pensions dashboard can’t be handed over to the private sector to run.”

He added: “Putting the SFGB in charge, as we’ve long called for, is in the public interest and a welcome proposal. The emphasis on building a non-commercial dashboard initially is crucial if the major benefit that dashboard offers, a single register that allows savers to see all their pensions in one place, is to be realised. That’s the big prize, rather than a commercial tool for providers to market their services.”