After much speculation about its future, the long-awaited pensions dashboard project appears to have received a stay of execution from government.
Work and pensions secretary Esther McVey has announced the long awaited project will be delivered by the pension industry.
Under government plans for a pensions dashboard, savers would be able to view all of their pension savings and state pension benefits in one place.
This will allow pension savers to see details of all of their defined contribution and defined benefit pensions through a single, secure online dashboard, along with a forecast of their state pension benefits.
After initially wanting the pensions dashboard to be delivered by an industry working group, the Department for Work and Pensions took back control.
Earlier rumours had suggested the DWP wanted to abandon the plans altogether.
Esther McVey said:
‘The pensions landscape is transforming and the dashboard offers a great opportunity to give people straightforward access to their pension info in a clear & simple format – bringing together an individual’s savings in a single place online.
“It is clear there is broad support for the concept of a dashboard and its potential to empower those putting money away for their futures. By taking a leading role, and harnessing their knowledge, industry can develop a dashboard that works for pensions holders – and government will help facilitate this.”
According to one pension provider, the announcement represents a ‘huge breakthrough’.
Steve Webb, Director of Policy at Royal London said:
“This announcement is a huge breakthrough after a period of uncertainty. There is much that the industry can do to deliver a dashboard, but only the government can supply vitally important state pension data and only the government can legislate to make sure that the dashboard’s coverage is comprehensive.
“Backed by this renewed commitment by the government, the whole pension industry now needs to work together to drive forward this much-needed initiative”.
Kate Smith, Head of Pensions at Aegon said:
“The whole point of the pension dashboard is so people can see all their pensions online in one place.
“Government needs to facilitate this by legislating to compel all schemes and the state to provide pension detail when asked to do so. Without this the pension dashboard risks being half-baked.”
Press reports started circulating in July that McVey was planning to remove government support for the pensions dashboard project.
Looking for reassurance, the pension industry was disappointed when pensions minister Guy Opperman declined to deny the project was being abandoned by government.
More than 125,000 people subsequently signed a petition aimed at saving the pensions dashboard.
With renewed government support for the dashboard, albeit with responsibility for its delivery now passed to industry, it will be interesting to see whether it can be finished by next year, as originally anticipated when it was first presented as a concept in 2016’s Budget.