Department for Work & Pensions  

DWP pension data not fit for purpose

DWP pension data not fit for purpose

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) should conduct a bespoke, cross-sectional survey of 40 to 75 year olds, repeated every three to five years, a government report has recommended, signalling stats currently collected were not fit for purpose.

Following substantial changes to the UK pensions landscape in recent years, the DWP commissioned NatCen Social Research to conduct a feasibility study to understand how people plan for later life. 

The 99-page report 'Planning and preparing for later life: A social survey feasibility study' recommended DWP consider "the scope to invest in a new bespoke survey on people’s attitudes, aspirations and behaviours when planning and preparing for later life". 

The report analysed nine existing surveys that each collect some information that could be considered relevant to later life planning.

However, it found there was "significant evidence gaps in both topics and population coverage".

Areas highlighted as lacking, included attitudes to employment in later life, the reasons for working or not working, understanding the training needs of older people, and the impacts of recent reforms.

The new questionnaire should "cover both the financial and employment related aspects for preparing and planning for retirement to ensure that information about both aspects is available for the same individuals”, it stated.

In addition to a survey restricted to individuals aged 40-75, residing in private households in Great Britain, it will also seek a cross-sectional survey of 9,000 interviews to provide additional analysis. 

Jon Greer, head of retirement policy at Quilter, said: "Today the department for Work and Pensions released a report analysing their current data sets and surveys to determine if they are suitable for the current later life landscape.

"Their conclusion was a resounding no and they are starting a new survey to focus on 40 to 75 year olds, which contains a significant proportion of groups that aren’t currently captured, such as carers and the self-employed. 

"It is right that the government invests in building up a rich pool of knowledge on the retirement market but there has to be a sense of urgency too."

He added: "It is also important that building a bank of data is not used as an excuse to delay fixing obvious issues with systems.

"For instance mothers who have gap in their national insurance contributions because of a complicated child benefit scheme."