The pensions dashboard: yet more delays...

The pensions dashboard: yet more delays...
22 June 2023

What impact will the continuing delays to the pensions dashboard have on savers?

The pensions dashboard is the largest digital transformation project that the pensions industry has ever attempted: the creation of a digital platform consolidating the pension information of every individual in the UK.

The primary aim of the pensions dashboard is to provide individuals with a comprehensive and easily accessible overview of their pension savings. Over their working life, and increasingly since the introduction of auto enrolment in 2012, many people accumulate multiple pension schemes throughout their career, making it difficult to track and manage their retirement funds effectively. According to the Pensions Policy Institute, around £26.6 million is currently sitting in lost pension pots in the UK. The dashboard project aims to address this by allowing users to view their pensions from various providers in one place, offering a consolidated and holistic understanding of their retirement savings.

The concept of a pensions dashboard was initially introduced in 2016 as part of the Financial Advice Market Review and the wider Pension Freedoms reforms. The government has continued to support the initiative, recognising its potential to enhance pension awareness and engagement among the population. The recent announcement of further implementation delays until October 2026 is disappointing, but understandable given the scale and importance of the project.

The rationale behind the dashboard

Once launched, the pensions dashboard is expected to deliver several significant benefits. Firstly, it aims to empower individuals to make informed decisions about their retirement savings by providing a clear picture of all their pension pots. Users will have access to details on contributions, investment performance, projected retirement income and other relevant information, helping with better financial and tax planning.

It is also hoped that the dashboard will encourage greater engagement with pension planning. By providing enhanced transparency and visibility of pension information, individuals can take an active interest in their savings, leading to improved financial literacy and more effective retirement and tax planning. This increased awareness can prompt adjustments to pension contributions or investment strategies, helping pension holders to align their savings with their retirement goals. However, its implementation has faced significant problems.

Pension industry challenges

Several years on, one of the primary challenges continues to be the complexity of integrating data from various pension providers, each with their own systems and data formats. Ensuring data accuracy, privacy and security across multiple platforms poses a formidable technical challenge. Furthermore, obtaining the necessary cooperation and commitment from pension providers has proven time consuming. The pension industry comprises numerous stakeholders, including pension schemes, insurers and administrators, each with their own priorities and infrastructure. Coordinating these to deliver the required data and functionality for the dashboard project has been a complex undertaking.

Another contributing factor to the delays has been the need to establish robust governance and regulatory frameworks to ensure the security and integrity of the pensions dashboard. With the ever-increasing cyber security threat, protecting sensitive personal and financial information is of paramount importance.

The impact of delays

For individuals looking to understand and plan their pension arrangements, these delays will have implications that may be felt many years down the line. They will continue to face difficulties in obtaining a comprehensive view of their pension savings. This lack of visibility can hinder retirement planning and may lead to suboptimal decision-making regarding contributions or investment choices. This risk may be exacerbated by the current cost of living crisis as individuals opt to save less into pension pots now, without understanding the longer-term impact of this decision.

Dashboard delays also hamper the ability to identify and address any discrepancies or issues with pension records promptly. Without a centralised platform to review pension information, pension holders may encounter challenges in rectifying errors, updating personal details, or consolidating multiple pensions.

While the delays are disappointing, it’s essential to note that much progress has already been made by the pensions industry and there is continued cross-party support for the project. Significant time has already been invested to address the technical and coordination challenges, as well as establish robust governance frameworks. Once these hurdles are overcome, the pensions dashboard holds the potential to revolutionise pension management for millions of individuals, offering a more transparent, accessible and user-friendly approach to retirement planning. The risk with the new 2026 implementation deadline is that the project becomes a lower priority until the new deadline looms closer.

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