Pension dashboard set to go ahead

Pensions minister Guy Opperman has confirmed that the pensions dashboard will go ahead and the Department for Work and Pensions will be responsible for it.

People currently have 11 different jobs on average in their lifetime, which can make workplace pension pots hard to keep track of. If created, the pension dashboard would be an online platform where people could view all their various pension pots in a single place.

Australia, Sweden and the Netherlands already have pension dashboards where savers can see all their pensions in one place, and the UK government has been debating how to create a similar dashboard over the last two years.

In his 2016 Budget speech, George Osborne had stated that the government will ensure the industry designs, funds and launches a pension dashboard by 2019. Now, retirement experts believe the Opperman’s announcement confirms the government’s intention to follow its words with actions.

‘This is a huge step forward. Those of us who want consumers to be able to see all of their pensions in one place had started to despair at the lack of momentum coming from government,’ says Steve Webb, Director of Policy at Royal London. 

He adds that whilst government ‘has been clear that it will not be delivering the dashboard or paying for it, government engagement is still vitally important.’ That’s because the government can help to ensure that state pensions and public service pensions are included in the dashboard and can legislate to require all private pension schemes to supply data as well.  The onus of provision will fall upon the pensions industry itself.

Stephen Lowe, group communications director at Just Group, also welcomes the announcement. He says: ‘By allowing “small pot” and “trivial commutation” withdrawals, our pension rules have long implied that small amounts of pension aren’t worth bothering with.’

As the trend of people having multiple jobs continues, it is crucial that all pension pots are viewed in the context of the total income that can be generated in retirement, he adds. 

Tom McPhail, head of policy at Hargreaves Lansdown, points out that people should take responsibility for monitoring their pensions until the new dashboard is up and running. ‘With the dashboard not expected to be with us until 2019, anyone who currently has multiple pensions should take the time to get an up to date valuation for each; delaying your planning even for a couple of years can put a dent in your retirement income.

He adds that ‘often people are surprised quite how much the company pension they had from a long-forgotten employer is worth’.

However, despite the current announcement, it remains unclear how comprehensive any pension dashboard is likely to be in the future. Former pension minister Ros Altmann has previously told Money Observer: 'It would be an enormous cost on providers who don't have electronic systems.

‘The ones that want the government to push the dashboard through via legislation are the big providers who would get a competitive advantage from it because they are low cost.'

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