Hopes of pensions dashboards dashed and delayed until 2026
Once in force, pensions dashboards will allow savers to view all their various pension pots in one place – including Government, workplace and private pension schemes.
Currently savers have to look at – and keep track of – these pension pots separately, which has led to lost or forgotten retirement income.
Seven years ago, the Government first committed to the pensions dashboards programme and originally, it was 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, with dashboards becoming available to the public in 2024.
In March this year, the Government confirmed it would require additional time to deliver the connection of pension providers and schemes.
And today, pensions minister Laura Trott said “more time is needed to deliver this complex build” as a wide range of different IT systems attempt to connect to the dashboards digital architecture.
Dashboard deadline set but access could be sooner
In a written ministerial statement, she confirmed that as part of the “reset” of the Pensions Dashboard Programme, instead of an entire staging timeline being set in legislation, guidance will be issued to “give the Pensions Dashboards Programme the flexibility it needs to ensure this complex project is completed effectively”.
She 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.”
Trott stressed this date is not the dashboards available point – the point at which dashboards will be accessible to the public – “which could be earlier than this”.
She also added that 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.”
‘Question whether pensions dashboards will ever be created at all’
Tom Selby, head of retirement policy at AJ Bell, said the industry and Government have had years to prepare for pensions dashboards so the decision to push mandatory connection to dashboards beyond the next General Election is “hugely disappointing and people will understandably now question whether they will ever be created at all”.
He said: “Having been led up the dashboards hill multiple times by the Government, savers and the pensions industry are now back at the bottom trying to figure out what the future may hold.
“Pensions dashboards have the potential to make life much easier for people trying to locate and ultimately combine retirement pots built up over the course of their working lives. Given research suggests the total value of ‘lost’ pension pots already stands at over £26bn, simplifying the process of finding these pots could be a game-changer for savers.
“Over time, dashboards could also act as a valuable engagement tool – but only if they are ever actually created in the first place.”