Opinion  

When will 20-somethings matter to the govt’s pension department?

Ruby Hinchliffe

Ruby Hinchliffe

A lack of exposure

When I joined the workforce in 2017, my employer’s pensions adviser was the first exposure I had ever had to how a pension worked. 

I remember asking a subsequent employer in an induction if I could choose the level of risk my pension investments were in, to which I received as disgusted a frown as if I had just asked if I could lie naked on the meeting room table.

If the DWP worked with UK banks, this could give it an easy-access platform through which to push this pension notification into someone’s hands.

It does not have to recommend a product. All it has to do is lay out the simple facts and lead people to more information. 

Something like: 'Could you live on the £185.15-a-week state pension once you retire? If you couldn’t, here’s what you need to know.' People can then make up their minds as to whether they will act or not.

The DWP is currently in the midst of an ongoing digital transformation programme that has been operating under the name ‘DWP Digital’. Investing in digital seems like a great place to start.

But the focus of the project is on improving the experience of some 20mn UK adults who use the department's services each year – that is, those old enough to access their state pension.

The same goes for the department’s efforts to solve pension underpayments, a bill which now sits at £1.35bn. Around 510 civil servants are working on this project, which is endeavouring to compensate those – mainly women – who have not been paid as much as they should have been.

While these projects are essential in nature, it feels like our government’s pension department will spend decades on solving the errors of the past and dedicate very few resources to trying to avoid the potential errors of the future. 

ruby.hinchliffe@ft.com