Pension dashboard moves a step closer to reality

The first pension dashboard will be launched in 2019, but state pension data will not be available straight away.

The first pension dashboard will be made available to consumers next year; but in a move that has received criticism, state pension data will not be made available from day one.

Proposals unveiled by the government today (3 December) confirm that pension dashboards will allow people to access their information from most pension schemes in one place online for the first time.  

Both prime minister Theresa May and Guy Opperman, the pensions minister, have pledged their support for pension dashboards to be created, pouring cold water on speculation that the idea would be scrapped

While full details have not been published, the government’s announcement did contain a couple of nuggets that had not previously been announced.

First, today’s proposals have opened the door for multiple pension dashboards to be launched, rather than one single dashboard. But to begin with, the Single Financial Guidance Body (SFGB) will host the first dashboard. The SFGB is a non-departmental public body, backed by the Department for Work and Pensions. From 2019 it replaces Money Advice Service, the Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise.

Second, the government said that state pension information will be available “at some stage”, inferring the data will not be available straight away. This has attracted criticism, most notably from former pension minister Steve Webb, who is now director of policy at Royal London.

He says: “Worryingly, state pension data will not be on the dashboard from day one but will simply be included via a link to another website.  This will seriously delay the scope for pension planning tools that look at the whole of an individual’s pension saving – which is one of the major potential advantages of having a dashboard.”

Carolyn Jones, head of pension policy at Fidelity International, also expressed disappointment. She adds: “While the proposed inclusion of the state pension is a positive step, we believe it should be made available at launch.”

Webb and Jones, along with other pension commentators, were on the whole positive about the pension dashboard plans. The technological initiative will allow pension savers to see all of their pension pots in one place.

As Jon Greer, head of retirement policy at Quilter, points out, the days of a job for life and an engraved golden watch are long gone, with the average worker now having around 10 different jobs throughout their career. Moreover, each one provides a pension with a different scheme.

He adds: “Even those organised enough to colour-code their financial records might find it hard to keep track of all those details. A pensions dashboard would harness the power of technology to allow this new generation of savers to see all their workplace, personal and state pensions in one place. Such simplification would make tackling your retirement finances less of an struggle.”

As previously announced, the pension dashboard will be fully funded by the pension industry, rather than the government. More details on will be firmed up early next year following a consultation which closes on 28 January 2019.



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