The announcement was made by new pension minister Laura Trott, and has been greeted with frustration from some in the pensions industry – particularly as this new staging date is now two-and-a-half years later than initial proposals.
In a written statement, Trott said more time was needed to “deliver this complex build” and for the pensions industry to facilitate the successful connection of a wide range of different IT systems to the dashboards digital architecture.
However, rather than setting out a new staging timeline in legislation, the government had now said it would give guidance on these new connection dates, creating fears that there these new deadlines will also slip.
Moneyhub CEO Samantha Seaton said: “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.”
Meanwhile, Equisoft product sales director Howard Finnegan claimed the announcement was “very disappointing”. Finnegan, whose firm has been a technology partner on the dashboards programme, commented: “No incentive for earlier adoption is a recipe for delay and inevitable crunch as deadline approaches. We believe that without compulsion and with no incentive for early adoption most schemes will not follow the guideline dates. Why would companies incur costs a year or more ahead of when required by the regulator?”
However, pension providers welcomed the ‘clarity’ provided by the statement after the announcement earlier this year that the dashboard programme had effectively been put on hold.
The People’s Partnership director of policy Phil Brown said: “As long time supporters of dashboards, we welcome the clarity provided by today’s announcement and are pleased that DWP see a longer delay as unnecessary. Like other schemes, we will continue to use this time to prepare our data and think that the extension of the delivery date will give everybody time to ensure they are ready.”
The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association director of policy and advocacy Nigel Peaple added: “Today’s statement that the Government remains committed to the delivery of pensions dashboards provides some helpful clarity and flexibility for the pensions industry.
“We would, however, highlight that many in the pensions industry, including the PLSA, would have preferred the new staging timeline to be set out in regulation, as was previously the case, rather than only in guidance, as is now planned.
“We believe they will have a transformative effect on wider pensions engagement and understanding. As we have said since the start of the programme, this is a highly complex undertaking, early delivery is less important than successful delivery.”
Sam Buckle, executive sponsor of Phoenix Group’s pensions dashboard project, explained the firm welcomed this “additional flexibility”.
“We believe focusing on having the majority of pensions on board is the priority, rather than the entire market. As an organisation we will continue to plan our dashboard programme in line with the guidance as soon as it is issued. This is an important initiative that will help pension savers. We are making good progress and are on track to meet our obligations.”