The government's decision to let the industry take lead on the pensions dashboard, without a commitment to force providers to submit client data, has been branded a failure.
Esther McVey, secretary of state for Work and Pensions, announced yesterday (4 September) that the industry, not government, would be put in charge of the project.
She said: "By taking a leading role, and harnessing their knowledge, industry can develop a dashboard that works for pension holders – and government will help facilitate this."
Guy Opperman, minister for pensions and financial inclusion, added the government will continue to engage with industry, pledging it will "protect pension savers and personal information by legislating where necessary".
But he stopped short of committing to force providers to provide a comprehensive set of data and did not confirm whether all state pension data would feed into the project, meaning the dashboard could be incomplete.
He said the project would be built on the government’s Check your State Pension tool, which gives people estimates of their projected retirement income.
He said the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) would report on the findings from its feasibility study on the pension dashboard "shortly". The report has been expected since March.
The pension dashboard, which is due to launch in 2019, is to allow savers to see all of their retirement pots in one place at the same time, giving them greater awareness of their assets and how to plan for their retirement.
However, several pension experts are warning without strong commitment from the government, the project may fail in its aims.
Alistair Wilson, pensions expert at Zurich, said the fact there was no explicit compulsion for providers to use it was a "blow for savers".
He said: "A dashboard that helps savers identify their pension policies, as well as the state pension, is essential to help them keep track of and manage their savings, and plan effectively for their retirement."
Jon Greer, head of retirement policy at Quilter, branded the government statement as vague.
He said: "We remain in murky water when it comes to what the dashboard will actually look like, whether one or multiple dashboards, and what the government actually means when they say they will ‘facilitate it’.
"More clarity is needed and we await the feasibility study, which the minister suggests is imminent.”
Mr Greer argued that the "government cannot wipe their hands of the project, as a pension dashboard without all the data would be as useful as a recipe with only some of the ingredients listed".
He added: "Shelving the dashboard indefinitely would have let down savers and could even risk undermining the successful auto-enrolment policy over the longer term. However, a half-hearted solution is not much better.
"Any industry led dashboard will need not just backing from the government, but engagement. The industry can certainly get things off the ground by using their resources and expertise.