DWP reveals staged rollout for delayed £100m Pensions Dashboard Programme

An updated timeline has been set for the major project to create a single online home where citizens can access pension information – which was originally scheduled to conclude in 2019

Following a programme reset, the Department for Work and Pensions has revealed an updated timeline for a staged rollout of the delayed £100m project to deliver online accounts for citizens to access information on all their pensions in one place.

The Pensions Dashboard Programme – first announced eight years ago and originally scheduled to complete work by 2019 – is now slated to be fully operational by the start of November 2026. To support this delivery date, the DWP has this week published guidance setting out a schedule for a staged connection to PDP systems by various groups of pension providers over the coming two and a half years.

The plan was developed after the department “consulted on and engaged extensively with industry”. This engagement informed an approach that “prioritises schemes and providers with the greatest number of memberships”.

Providers are not legally required to adhere to the programme’s suggested timeline but are advised to do so in order to ensure successful delivery.

“This approach, if followed by industry, will ensure a sufficiently high level of pensions memberships will be available to ‘Find’ and ‘View’ on pensions dashboards as early as possible, in turn enabling the launch of pensions dashboards for use by the public at the earliest possible point,” the guidance says. “Retaining the broad framework of a phased approach to connection will be important in managing the flow of connections to the pensions dashboards ecosystem. Working with industry, PDP expects to facilitate connection in line with the ‘connect by’ dates in guidance, ahead of the connection deadline in legislation [of October 2026].”

It adds: “Trustees or managers and pension scheme providers connecting too close to the connection deadline of 31 October 2026 could place undue strain on all parties involved in facilitating connection… Where trustees or managers and pension scheme providers connect later than their ‘connect by’ date in guidance, they do so at greater risk of not being connected by the connection deadline in legislation.”

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The first tranche of providers – including master trust schemes with more than 20,000 members and FCA-regulated operators running personal or corporate pensions for over 5,000 people – are advised to complete connection by 30 April 2025.

A range of other groups have been asked to meet deadlines at the end of May, June, August, September, October and November 2025 – by which time the DWP hopes to complete the connection process for all large pension schemes.

The first suggested deadline for smaller providers – which applies to FCA-regulated schemes with under 5,000 members and occupational pensions covering up to 1,000 employees – is set for 31 January 2026. Incremental targets for further groups will follow at the end of each month thereafter up to 30 September – one month ahead of the legally enshrined cut-off by which all providers are required to connect.

Schemes that are created between now and October 2026 are advised that they “should connect their scheme by either six months from the end of their first scheme year, or the assigned date that applies to schemes of similar size and type as set out in the guidance – whichever is later”.

Connection options
The guidance states that schemes will have two options for connecting to PDP: “using an in-house technology solution by building their own direct connection; or buying the services of an integrated service provider or third-party administrator and connecting through them”.

The number of provides connecting directly via their own internal technology is expected to be much smaller and the DWP is intending to begin working with these schemes shortly, ahead of the commencement of “widescale connection” of those connecting via third-party specialists, which will follow the timeline of staged adoption from April 2025 to September 2026.

“Building an interface that will connect directly to the pensions dashboards ecosystem is a significant undertaking which will require specialist technical expertise to build and maintain systems that can meet the PDP standards and deal with high volumes of ‘Find’ and ‘View’ requests,” the guidance says. “Extensive testing will be required to evidence meeting the standards, including an independent third-party security test. This will take time and therefore trustees or managers and pension scheme providers intending to build a direct connection should engage with PDP as soon as possible, if they have not already done so.”

The new incremental connection plan comes following a reset of the PDP programme last year. With the previously slated deadline for connection just four months away, ministers announced in June 2023 that the completion date would be pushed back again to October 2026.

Government major project data published in 2022 indicated that the project’s whole-life costs were £93m. The 2023 data release did not contain cost information, as the reset was still ongoing and an updated business case was yet to be finalised by the DWP.

Once the dashboards are live, they will provide people with the ability “to see their pensions information, including their State Pension, for free in one place online at a time of their choosing”, according to the guidance.

“Pensions dashboards will also reunite savers with lost or forgotten pensions,” it adds. “The ability to access information easily alongside an increase in individuals’ awareness and understanding of their pension information could also support people with better planning for their retirement.”

Sam Trendall

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