On December 3 the Department for Work and Pensions published its feasibility study outcome and consultation on the proposed pensions dashboard.
This followed on from a roundtable discussion, held on November 27, and a letter from Work and Pensions select committee chair Frank Field to pensions minister Guy Opperman urging him to commit to legislation compelling firms to provide customer data for the dashboard.
Clearly, the feasibility study had been in the works for some time at the DWP, because although the idea of a pensions dashboard has been around for a long time now, there had been little progress in the delivery of an industry-wide solution.
The pensions dashboard is intended as a service that provides a system where consumers can view all their pensions in one place. There has been some concern that providers won’t be willing to provide this information to a central dashboard. But to combat this, and to ensure all pension information is available, the government has stated it is indeed prepared to legislate to compel schemes to provide their data, should that be required. It has also committed to take steps to provide state pension information via dashboards.
Delivery of the project
The government is planning to help convene a delivery group of experts from both the industry and government, although it has stressed the majority of input should be from the pensions industry and other external parties. The group is likely to be led and steered by the single financial guidance body, with the government working with regulators to ensure consumers are protected. The guidance body launches its services to the public in January 2019, so this project will be one of its first tasks.
The government has set out how it sees the steering group being established: a chair will be appointed by the guidance body in spring 2019 to oversee the whole process and act as final arbitrator should there be a lack of consensus. Below this will be a steering group, implementation executive and various working groups covering the different areas of the project.
There clearly needs to be a central group and a lead for this project, given there are more than 40,000 private pension schemes – managed by more than 4,500 providers – in existence. There are also all those occupational schemes managed by their own internal administration.
Auto-enrolment will continue to add to this complexity, as more and more of the workforce have small pension pots from various employers. However, it will be difficult – even with appropriate consultations – for all those impacted by the dashboard requirements to have their say.
In order to ensure full coverage is achieved in a timely and cost-effective manner, it is key that even the smallest of providers are engaged at the earliest stages of these proposals. The plan is to have initial data supplied in 2019, with the majority of schemes included in two to three years.