The government has abandoned plans to make pension providers include costs and charges in members' annual statements after the proposals faced backlash from the industry.
In response to its consultation on simpler annual benefit statements for workplace pensions, published today (October 19), the government said it will continue to require schemes to signpost members to information on charges but will not require them to include costs in pounds and pence.
The government u-turned on its original proposals after the pensions industry raised concerns that it would be challenging to present this information clearly in a two-page statement - the proposed length for such statements.
It added that to do so would lead to longer statements, which defeated the government’s main objective to simplify and shorten the documents.
Others were concerned that poorly presented information on charges could confuse members and end up with them concluding that their pension does not represent value for money.
There is also the risk that members could opt-out of saving due to confusion over costs.
The government stated: “[...] our proposal is to include a line in the simpler annual statement template on costs and charges with a clear signpost to the more detailed assessment of this information elsewhere which schemes are already required to provide.”
It added: “This is a complex area and we believe that it is important to strike the right balance between greater transparency and providing the information that members need to understand what is happening with their money; enabling those who are more engaged to easily access additional information; and the impact on schemes.”
Consolidator PensionBee called for charges to be displayed in pounds and pence in statements after it began including this information earlier this year.
Romi Savova, chief executive of PensionBee, said: “We hope that in future the DWP will also compel pension providers to present information on costs and charges in order to help members identify what they have paid for their pensions, as this is a crucial step towards empowering consumers to compare fees across all of their pots, increasing transparency and competition in the market.”
While some providers have voluntarily worked to simplify their workplace pension statements, the government has raised concerns that progress remained “too slow” and was not “delivering consistent results”.
Therefore it has decided to consult later this year on a mandatory approach to simpler statement templates for defined contribution schemes, taking its two-page statement template as the starting point in considering the length, content and design.
It will then work with the pensions industry on the detailed design of the template.
It noted that providers had not voluntarily adopted the freely available statement template developed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) as part of the 2017 review.
DWP stated: “The approach remains piecemeal and some of the revised statements are still too long.
“Moreover, the process is driven by the approach of individual providers, so overall statements remain inconsistent.