Even in these situations, trustees or scheme managers will have to prove that complying with the staging deadline “would be disproportionately burdensome” or “would put the personal data of members at risk”.
This guidance, published by the Department for Work and Pensions on December 12, intends to assist schemes with applications to defer their dashboards staging deadline by up to 12 months.
As the Pensions Dashboards Regulations 2022, which were laid out in parliament in November, came into force on December 12, the latest date for making an application for deferral would be December 11 2023, the DWP said.
The secretary of state for work and pensions is responsible for considering these applications, and schemes will only be able to defer their staging deadline once.
Despite the two situations in which a deferral could be approved, the government stated that “changing administrator alone would not be considered sufficient reason”.
“In some cases, for example, it might be that the new administrator has already connected other clients to the dashboard digital architecture and can provide a similar service immediately,” the guidance said.
The DWP explained that if a scheme has embarked on a programme to transfer data to a new administrator before the regulations come into force, it is expected this has “been done in good faith”.
“The secretary of state will not therefore grant deferrals where it appears that a trustee or manager has sought to change their administrator, or has delayed the change, to deliberately avoid needing to meet the connection requirements by their staging deadline,” it said.
If a scheme is required to retender the contract for their administrator, the DWP expects the timetable for achieving this to be reasonable.
Deferrals will not be granted “where it is suspected that a trustee or manager has sought to intentionally delay the timetable to avoid needing to meet their connection requirements”, it added.
The guidance also details what circumstances the government considers to be a “disproportionate burden”, therefore allowing schemes for a deferral.
These are situations where the monetary cost of compliance with the rules “was significantly higher than it otherwise would be if the scheme was not undergoing a change of administrator, and the additional cost was not considered to be in the best interests” of members.
Trustees and scheme managers are expected to provide evidence to show “that reasonable alternative options”, such as using an integrated service provider, have been considered “and determined to be unviable”, the DWP said.