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2 Feb 2022

Pensions dashboard: five things you need to know

Government consultation confirms timeline and state pensions to be included from day one
A woman checking her pension online

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has launched a new consultation on pensions dashboards, which reveals a long-awaited timeline for their launch.

A pensions dashboard will enable millions of workers to view all their pension pots in one place online - but the idea has been delayed since 2019.

Here, Which? explains what the DWP's consultation reveals about how pensions dashboards will work and when you can expect to use them.

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1. Pension schemes will join in three waves

There are currently around 32,000 pension schemes in the UK, and the DWP says it 'would not be realistic to have all of them brought onto the dashboard from the outset', so the process will be staggered.

Although there is no confirmed launch date for the dashboards, the DWP's consultation confirmed schemes will come on board in three waves under the plans.

Large schemes will jump on between April 2023 and September 2024, medium schemes between October 2024 and October 2025 and the smallest schemes expected to come on board from 2026.

Schemes should be able to connect earlier than their compulsory staging deadline where there is capacity, the consultation document said.

It added that to ensure that all schemes have a reasonable chance of being able to comply with their connection duties, there may be some 'limited flexibility' to defer a deadline for up to 12 months.

2. Your state pension will be included

The consultation document confirms that people will be able to view their state pension from day one. This is something that Which? has called for when previously consulted on pensions dashboards.

It would include the date you turn eligible for the state pension, the forecasted state pension amount and the estimated amount based on their national insurance record.

The government said specific messaging would be presented on the dashboard to make clear the state pension forecasts are based on the current law and current circumstances - which could change in the future.

3. Pension dashboards will be regulated by the FCA

Eventually, there could be multiple dashboards developed and hosted by different organisations.

The Pensions Dashboards Programme (PDP) was established by the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) in 2019 to deliver the digital architecture that will enable dashboards to work.

MaPS will develop and host its own dashboard, but for other operators they will need to become a Qualifying Pensions Dashboard Service (QPDS).

A QPDS will need to meet certain requirements and must get authorisation and be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

MaPS will be in charge of setting detailed standards and if it notifies the FCA that a dashboard is no longer complying with these, the FCA can de-authorise the provider.

4. Advisers will be able to access clients' dashboards

The government has proposed that MaPS guidance specialists, regulated financial advisers and those considered by MaPS to be appropriate, will be given access to their clients' dashboards.

However, only those with permission will be granted access and savers will be able to remove advisers from seeing their dashboard at any time.

5. Schemes will be given time to fetch pensions data

Pension schemes will be able to use information provided within the last 12 months for annual benefit statements rather than 'live' data.

If a value has not been calculated or provided on a benefits statement within the last 12 months, the regulations propose they will have three days to find it. Defined benefit schemes will be given up to 10 days.

Why is a pensions dashboard needed?

The government estimates that on average, people may build up 11 different pension pots in their lifetime and it can be difficult to keep track of every one.

Pensions minister Guy Opperman said dashboards were an essential part of the government's plans to modernise the pensions industry and 'make it fit for the 21st century digital age'.

Seeing all the information pieced together for the first time could help people to plan for retirement and make the most of their savings.

'Pension schemes must move quickly'

Which? Money editor Jenny Ross said the government first committed to introducing pensions dashboards five years ago so it was 'encouraging' they had taken a step closer with the consultation.

She said: 'Dashboards should help millions of people to keep track of their savings and plan for retirement, and it's right that state pension data will be included from the start.

'Pension schemes must move quickly and ensure they are ready to provide the information that people expect and need on a dashboard without further delay, as some consumers have struggled for too long with a complex, fragmented pensions system.'

The latest consultation will gather feedback from industry, potential providers, consumer groups such as Which? and future users on what data should be included on dashboards and how this should be displayed to people. It runs until Sunday 13 March and can be found here.