Government blunder dooms pension dashboard

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Government blunder dooms pension dashboard

The government has been accused of dooming the pension dashboard to failure by not budgeting for delivering state pension valuations.

In response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) by FTAdviser, the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) said it doesn’t hold information on how much it would cost the government to deliver the pension dashboard project.

The government officials also don't know what would be the bill of setting up a system - or adapting the existing ones - to be able to migrate the state pension data into the dashboard.

"We continue to work with the pensions industry to determine how best we can facilitate their delivery of the pensions dashboard, and this will enable us to identify costs, including costs to the government," a spokesman for the DWP said in its response to the FOI.

Government officials mentioned that, so far, the department has spent about £100,000 on the pension dashboard feasibility study, as FTAdviser reported in September.

The pension dashboard, which is due to launch in 2019, aims to allow savers to see all of their retirement pots in one place at the same time, giving them a greater awareness of their assets and how to plan for their retirement.

Last month the government said it would let industry take the lead on the project

The government tasked the industry with delivering the dashboard after it emerged in July that Esther McVey, secretary of state for work and pensions, had made moves to kill off the project, saying the service should not be provided by the state.

Fiona Tait, technical director at Intelligent Pensions, said the fact the government was unable at this late stage to provide a budget for the migration of state pension to the pensions dashboard would seem to underline the fact that the intention was for the industry to carry out most of the work, and that the government did not see the inclusion of state pension data as a priority.

She said: "This is of considerable concern given that the state pension provides over half of the income of retirees in lower to median income brackets."

Plumbing the state pension into the dashboard will be an additional government cost, and one that it should be thinking about.Kate Smith

Andrew Tully, pensions technical director at Canada Life, noted it was not surprising that the dashboard cost was unknown, since "key decisions have not been made around coverage, inclusion of state benefits and how it is accessed".

He said: "The government has had experience of high profile IT projects significantly overrunning on cost and time, and so may be nervous about leading a significant IT build.