Pensions dashboard back on government agenda

The government has signalled it is to go ahead with plans to support a pensions dashboard, bringing together information about all of an individual’s pension pots in one place

The creation of a pensions dashboard was originally announced by the then-Chancellor George Osborne in 2016, who said it would be up and running in 2019.  Subsequently, responsibility for the dashboard was shifted from the Treasury to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) project managed the successful creation of a prototype pensions dashboard on behalf of the Treasury which was unveiled in March 2017.

However, earlier this year there were suggestions that welfare secretary Ester McVey wanted to scrap the idea, prompting an online petition which attracted over 130,000 signatories in three weeks.

Now Guy Opperman, parliamentary undersecretary of state for pensions and financial inclusion, has made it clear that the project is ongoing in a statement to both Houses of Parliament.

Opperman said: ‘The pensions dashboard will offer people the opportunity to access their pension information in a clear and simple form – bringing together an individual’s savings in a single place online.

‘The work that the DWP has done in assessing feasibility for a pensions dashboard has made it clear that we should not underestimate the size or complexity of the challenge.’

Opperman went on to say that ‘an industry-led dashboard, facilitated by government’ will be the option going forward.

‘We will continue to engage with industry on this model and government will protect pension savers and personal information by legislating where necessary.

This will build on the government’s ‘Check your State Pension’ online service for the state pension. We will shortly report on the findings from the feasibility study,’ he said.

DWP estimates suggest 50m pension pots are at risk of being lost by 2050 without an official website to help workers to keep track of savings through their careers.

Huw Evans, director general of the Association of British Insurers (ABI), said: ‘The government will help out millions of savers by keeping its promise to help deliver the pensions dashboard.

‘The ABI, leading a cross-industry group of pension providers and schemes, has already delivered a great deal of the work needed to turn the dashboard into a reality, including a working prototype, and we look forward to continuing this collaboration.’

One of the sticking points in discussions with the pensions industry has been the question of how to include details of an individual’s state pension entitlement, as well as auto enrolment and other schemes.

Steve Webb, director of policy at insurer Royal London, said: ‘there is much that the industry can do to deliver a dashboard, but only the government can supply vitally important state pension data and only the government can legislate to make sure the dashboard’s coverage is comprehensive.

‘Backed by this renewed commitment by the government, the whole pension industry now needs to work together to drive forward this much-needed initiative’.

Report by Pat Sweet

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