Patience is a virtue, but for those waiting for the pensions dashboard programme to launch, patience is wearing thin. The Pensions Dashboard Programme, originally set to launch in 2019 before being postponed to August 2023, has once again had its launch date pushed back; this time to October 2026.
While disappointing, the news shouldn’t come as that big a shock to those in the industry. In March 2023, Pensions Minister Laura Trott explained that more time was needed beyond the existing deadline of 31 August 2023 to successfully launch the Pensions Dashboard Programme.
Supporting her previous statement, Trott added on 8 June: “As part of our reset of the Pensions Dashboard Programme, I am today laying amending regulations with a new approach to delivery that allows us to work more collaboratively with the pensions industry.
“Rather than setting out the entire staging timeline in legislation, we will instead set this out in guidance which we will collaborate on with industry this year. This will give the Pensions Dashboards Programme the flexibility it needs to ensure this complex project is completed effectively.”
She further added: “In recognition that the requirement to connect to the digital architecture should remain mandatory, we will include a connection deadline in legislation of 31 October 2026. This is not the Dashboards Available Point – the point at which dashboards will be accessible to the public – which could be earlier than this.
“The Government remains as committed as ever to making pensions dashboards a reality and we are ambitious about their delivery. I am confident that this re-appraised approach will enable us to make significant progress on delivering dashboards safely and securely, enabling consumers to take advantage of their benefits to plan for retirement.”
Why is another delay so disappointing?
The pensions dashboard will provide one central location in which individuals can view and access all of their pension savings. The Money and Pensions Service, which is currently supervising the PDP, says that the dashboards “will provide clear and simple information” about all of your pension pots, including the state pension, to support “better planning for retirement“.
Another delay prolongs individuals from now only accessing the points above, but also from reconnecting with potentially lost pension pots.
Samantha Seaton, CEO of Moneyhub, the open banking payments fintech, comments: “While appreciative of the complexities of the Pensions Dashboards Programme, the fact remains that people need to be able to retire and to live an appropriate lifestyle that a G7 country can be proud of.
“As we have said before, we should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and having a starting point that can be continuously refined and optimised is preferable.
“The largest master trusts and personal pension providers are ready to connect to the ecosystem and they want to get on and focus on the subsequent benefits and we are already working with many of them when it comes to developing their own end-to-end pensions dashboard offering.
“While Pensions Dashboards will be a key ingredient for delivering financial wellness in the UK, working together as an industry we are already prepared to bring these ground-breaking solutions to consumers.”
Perfection takes time
Steve Watson, director of policy and research at Cushon, the pensions fintech, while voicing his disappointment of the delay, was happy measures to ensure the dashboard will be successful are being put into place: “Another delay is hugely disappointing but it is essential the DWP gets this launch correct. The Pensions Dashboard has the potential to transform how people engage with their pensions. It can boost contribution levels that will ultimately improve retirement outcomes.
“It also helps solve the small pots issue; seeing everything in one place is a driver for consolidation. Pension members want it to be easier to be able to consolidate all their pensions. Although there are other issues such as perceived complexity and jargon to tackle, the dashboard is a vital step in modernising pensions. It will encourage more people to save earlier.”
Any further delays must be avoided
For Jonathan Hawkins, Bravura’s principal consultant and pensions expert, the news wasn’t entirely bad. Postponing the launch means there is more time to get regulations and legislation right. However, Hawkins highlights that any further delays won’t help the industry, but rather hurt pension providers.
He says: “Today’s announcement plays a critical role in tidying up the regulations and legislation around the Pensions Dashboards Programme (PDP). It provides a much-needed element of certainty on the approach at the same time.
“There is, of course, a worry that legislation differs in gravity from guidance. It will ultimately be up to the industry to lead by example. Regulators must ensure appropriate carrots and sticks are in place to ensure the updated timelines are adhered to.
“Now that we have a backstop date in place, the PDP must prioritise reinstating connections to the Central Digital Architecture (CDA). This will allow pension providers and firms to push ahead with their onboarding journeys.
“We look forward to continuing to collaborate with the PDP and our industry partners. This is in addition to further updates on the reset expected later this year. Any further delays in connecting to the CDA will likely eat into the time pensions providers and schemes have to deliver. Therefore, it is important this is back on-track sooner rather than later.”