The government has announced a further delay to the Pensions Dashboard Programme which seeks to provide a centralised service for people to find and interact with their state, employer and private pensions.
Laura Trott, undersecretary of state for pensions, announced the delay in a 2 March statement, citing concerns that the project, launched in 2016, would not be able to meet its deadline of 31 August 2023.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will be enlisted to overhaul the project, Trott said, so that it will meet pensions providers’ disparate IT needs and security requirements.
A new deadline is expected to be announced before the end of July.
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Trott said: “The huge consumer benefits of pensions dashboards are yet to be realised, but it is vital that the foundation upon which the dashboards ecosystem is built is safe, secure, and works for both the pensions industry users connecting to it and the end-users of the service. While there are issues to work through, we must not lose sight of these benefits.
“It is essential that scheme preparation for pensions dashboards continues, and we will press ahead to deliver this technology.”
Kate Smith, head of pensions at insurance firm Aegon, said the announcement was unsurprising.
Speaking to HR magazine she said: “After years of the pensions industry working collaboratively with the government and regulators, the dashboard ‘reset’ is frustrating, but not entirely unexpected.
“This is a massive highly complex government-led IT project involving many moving parts, drawing in pensions data from numerous organisations and sending it securely to dashboards so it can be viewed online by the public. We shouldn’t underestimate the challenge.”
The pensions industry now expects to start onboarding companies onto the scheme in 2024, Smith said, so delaying the scheme’s start rather than risking use of faulty or insecure software was preferable.
She added: “Ultimately we believe that pension dashboards have the potential to be a game-changer, not only connecting people with their pensions but also increasing engagement and improved financial wellbeing.”
Lily Megson, policy director at financial advisor My Pension Expert, applauded the government’s cautious approach.
She said: “The government must now ensure that consumers have the right financial support to help them achieve the financially secure retirement they deserve.
The Pension Dashboard Programme has the potential to transform pension engagement – and I hope the government soon outlines when we can expect the new launch date.
“Until then, I implore ministers to ensure support for savers remains a top priority. Otherwise, we risk seeing the UK’s confidence in its financial future continuing to slip.”