In a period where every government policy is crowded out by “the Tory psychodrama of Brexit”, as one MP called it, you could wonder whether the pensions dashboard might have been kicked into the long grass.
Heralded by the Treasury in 2016 as a milestone among the Conservatives’ pension reforms, it has been in the pipeline for some time, though ministers had been notably quiet on the launch since December.
This would be expected for a project with multiple moving parts, which include 200 pension providers and planning the exchange of millions of pieces of information in real time, but in the current political climate it was always going to be submerged.
On April 4 some news emerged – it was going to happen.
The Department for Work and Pensions confirmed that work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd (pictured) had given the green light.
The government’s plans include a commitment to bring forward legislation “at the earliest opportunity” to compel all pension providers to make consumers’ data available through a dashboard.
There is an expectation that most schemes will be ready to go live with their data within a three to four-year window.
State pension information will be included “as soon as possible”, according to the DWP.
The government is also backing the development of multiple industry-led dashboards displaying the same basic information.
Initial models will be tested from this year and the single financial guidance body, now named the Money and Pensions Service, will deliver a non-commercial dashboard.
The guidance body is also bringing together an industry delivery group to set out a timetable and standards, as well as mechanisms to ensure security over users’ data.
Ricky Chan, director at IFS Wealth & Pensions, says the dashboard will save time for advisers and clients and might help clients who have lost contact with their old pension providers.
He says it may increase the likelihood of companies offering guidance remotely, for example through Skype.
However, Mr Chan notes: “It wouldn’t save time on the important areas, which include discussing what’s important to the clients, their longer-term objectives and their retirement plans.
“I’m sceptical of the depth of information that is actually available on the dashboards; I doubt they’d be as detailed as advisers would want them.
“It’s likely advisers would still need to send off a letter of authority to the respective providers to obtain all the information, which takes time and lots of going back and forth.”
Mr Chan gives the example of defined contribution pensions, adding: “I’m unsure if information relating to charges or certain guarantees would be included on the dashboard, so it would require further clarification from the provider.
“For preserved defined benefit pensions, the pension income figure may only be from the ‘date of leaving’ the scheme, and may have no information relating to death benefits or early retirement penalties. Again, this would require further clarification.”