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Clock ticking as pensions dashboard deadlines set

Clock ticking as pensions dashboard deadlines set
Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

The Government has updated the industry with key connection deadlines as it moves closer to the implementation of the long-awaited pensions dashboard programme.

The Government confirmed it is “absolutely committed to delivering pensions dashboards safely and securely to the public at the earliest opportunity”.

Paul Maynard, parliamentary undersecretary of state for pensions, said that since the pensions dashboard ‘reset’ last year, the programme has made “significant progress” in building and testing the system.

Once in force, it will allow savers to view all their pension pots in one place, including state, workplace and private schemes.

It’s been a long time coming, with the Government first committing to the pensions dashboard programme more than seven years ago. It was originally expected to launch in 2019.

However, it’s been hit by numerous delays and pushbacks, with previous plans expecting pension schemes to start connecting to dashboards from August 2023 and public access suggested for 2024.

In March last year, the Government confirmed it would require additional time to deliver the connection of pension providers and schemes.

But now, in a written ministerial statement, Maynard explained that the publication of guidance setting out a staged timetable for connection “will help smooth the process of connecting the approximately 3,000 pension schemes and providers in scope by the connection deadline of 31 October 2026”.

He noted that, subject to satisfactory testing, organisations building a direct connection such as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) state pension will start from August 2024. Wider industry connection is then expected from early 2025.

Maynard wrote: “The timetable prioritises connection of the largest pension schemes and providers, so that crucial user testing can quickly take place at scale, with the first cohort expected to have completed connection by the end of April 2025.

“Whilst the timetable is not mandatory, it is a legal requirement that trustees or managers of occupational pension schemes and providers of personal and stakeholder pensions have regard to this guidance.”

‘Promising step forward’ but ‘dangers’ ahead

Lily Megson, policy director at My Pension Expert, said: “The pension dashboard programme is an ambitious project and, despite all the frustrating delays that have been encountered in recent years, it’s of critical importance in simplifying the pension system and boosting pension engagement.

“So, the unveiling of a clear timetable for its connection is a promising step forward, signifying notable progress. While acknowledging the significant work that lies ahead, the timeline provided by the DWP offers much-needed clarity for both consumers and providers. Will the DWP meet its timeline? Now, that’s another question, but for me, it’s absolutely imperative that we have cross-party collaboration on this project. With a general election approaching, we cannot risk the launch of the pension dashboard being derailed by the inevitable changes in personnel that will come when the ballots close.”

Katie Stone, senior client relationship manager at Trafalgar House, added: “Whilst they may still feel like a way off, and with pressing projects and milestones on the horizon before then, there is a real danger that many schemes may choose to delay sorting their dashboard data and very much find themselves in TPR’s crosshairs.

“We fully recognise the pressure schemes are under, but the fact of the matter is that schemes are responsible for ensuring the successful onboarding of members to a dashboard platform in the not-too-distant future and for some this will come sooner than others. It is also predicted that, when dashboards start to come on to the market, there will be very large volumes of find requests. Healthy scheme data will be critical in managing these and greatly reduce partial matching. If schemes get this right, it will significantly reduce additional costs.”

Related: 10 lesser-known tips to find your lost pension