Government publishes plans for online service
As many as 10 million people could be able to access the government’s online Pensions Dashboard by this time next year.
The Department for Work and Pensions, which will lead the project to develop the digital tool, has published details of its plans for the service. The ultimate goal of the pensions dashboards are “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.
The DWP said that the dashboards “must operate in a way that balances industry innovation with data security”.
“The industry-led delivery group responsible for implementing dashboards will decide on the final detailed architectural model,” it added. “However, for government to legislate to enable dashboards, there are certain architectural principles which the department believes should, as a minimum, underpin the technology.”
Data related to state pensions will be provided via the government’s existing online Check Your State Pension digital service, which will connect into the dashboards.
The government has also found that a “number of pension schemes [and] providers would want to participate in the dashboard service on a voluntary basis, as soon as is practical”.
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“The proposed architectural model, underpinned by the Data Protection Act 2018… would allow this,” the DWP added.
Focusing on “defined contribution schemes such as master trusts” will 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, the 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.”
Funding for the 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.
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. As progress stalled over the coming months, there was speculation that government might abandon the project.
But in October last year pensions minister Guy Opperman announced that the project would go ahead, with DWP at the helm.
Speaking today, he said: “Pensions dashboards are another major milestone in our radical pension reforms, harnessing innovative technology to benefit savers. Plain pensions information at the touch of a screen will ensure better-informed, more engaged savers and help many more people to plan effectively for retirement.”
He added: “Bringing pensions information into the digital age has the potential to revolutionise the way we all think about and plan for later life. People, young and old, should have all the help they need to get ready for retirement and maximise their pension incomes and, working with industry, we will ensure they do.”