The government’s pensions dashboards project – an series of online platforms allowing people to manage their pensions – will be delivered by an industry-led body rather than being managed by the public sector, Department for Work and Pensions has been confirmed.
The first online pensions dashboard will be launched next year, with others to follow in the coming years, the DWP said as it published details of its plans for the service yesterday.
The ultimate goal of the pensions dashboards is “to enable citizens to securely access their pensions information online all in one place and at a time of their choosing”. This will include details of state, employer, and personal schemes.
In a statement to the House of Commons yesterday, pensions minister Guy Opperman said an industry group overseen by the newly-established Single Financial Guidance Body would be tasked with implementing the project.
“It is my firm belief that industry is best placed to finance and deliver this project and to create a technical dashboard infrastructure. This will advance a range of dashboard options,” he said.
A consultation document published by DWP yesterday said that “in the absence of a clear industry lead”, it will be up to the SFGB to convene and oversee the industry delivery group.
The SFGB, a non-departmental public body that will replace the Money Advice Service, the Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise from January next year, will appoint an independent chair by next Spring, who will bring together “key players from industry, fintech and consumer organisations in a similar approach to open banking”, it said.
The consultation document proposes that roll-out should begin with the establishment of a single, non-commercial dashboard, hosted by the SFGB, which it says is “likely to reduce the potential for confusion and help to establish consumer trust”.
It is then expected that multiple dashboards led by the private sector would be created to boost the number of people enrolled, as the DWP has said it believes consumers would benefit from having a range of dashboards to choose from.
In a pilot for the project, it said users “generally preferred the idea of a single, non-commercial and government-sponsored dashboard”.
“However, there are different types of user, including those who would trust a provider they already had a relationship with, such as their bank,” it added.
The document said focusing on “defined contribution schemes such as master trusts” would allow the dashboards to extend coverage to a large number of citizens in a comparatively short space of time once the service is up and running next year. There are, the government said, 90 master trust schemes covering almost 10 million individual private sector pension pots – more than a quarter of all workplace pensions in the UK.
Providers that wish to provide data on these schemes voluntarily will begin doing so in 2019.
Other types of pension, including public sector pension schemes and defined benefit programmes, “will need longer lead-in times in order to prepare their data and implement required changes to their systems”. The government will seek to introduce legislation requiring schemes to provide data to the dashboard, DWP said.
“The final timeline for onboarding will need to be agreed by industry through the delivery group, involving regulators and government following more detailed work,” the department added.
“However, we expect that the majority of schemes will be on-boarded within three to four years from the first dashboards being available to the public. The department will seek to legislate in a way that supports a phased approach to onboarding over a reasonable timeframe agreed by industry.”
Plans to develop an online service allowing citizens to monitor all their pensions in one place have been in the works for several years, with the Treasury launching a pilot in September 2016. The results of the study – published yesterday to kick off the consultation period – had been expected earlier this year.
The department has on multiple occasions been forced to deny that it might abandon the project as progress has stalled, dismissing reports in July that it had been killed off by then-work and pensions secretary Esther McVey as “speculation and rumour”.
Funding for DWP to undertake the necessary work for the government to deliver the pensions dashboard was set aside in the recent Budget. The “costs of the governance structure” of the service, meanwhile, will be paid by the pensions industry.
Over the coming weeks, the DWP will host a series of roundtables where it will seek the views of various parties, including pensions providers and consumer groups. During a consultation process that runs until 28 January, the department is also accepting written submissions and inviting responses to an online survey consisting of 15 questions.