Govt assessing 'complex' and 'challenging' dashboard

The government is wary of implementing the “complex” and “challenging” pensions dashboard, but refused to confirm whether or not it was set to “kill off” the project.

Answering a question on the government progress of the dashboard in the House of Lords today, 24 July 2018, Baroness Buscombe said that the decision depends on a number of functionality issues and that it wanted to cover “all challenging issues associated with the dashboard”.

The question was prompted after an article in The Times which stated Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Esther McVey believed the platform, set to be launched in April 2019, should not be provided by the state, and that it will distract from the government’s attempt to implement universal credit.

Buscombe refused to acknowledge whether the ongoing rollout of universal credit had anything to do with the dashboard rumours.

She said: “The minister knows it is complex and we are working around participation in any potential dashboard, the decision on whether to compel usage depends on a number of functionality issues … and governance of the dashboard.

“What we are talking about is quite complex, the more we explore it the more questions we are asking ourselves and the industry … the reality is we want to be careful to ensure we cover all the challenging issues associated with the dashboard around governance, funding, what role the government might have and what legislation is necessary.”

Buscombe added that the feasibility study was still underway.

When asked whether the unreliability of old data sets meant it wasn’t feasible for older schemes, but that the cleaner data for auto-enrolled members might allow the dashboard to work, Buscombe said: “I entirely refute that suggestion. We do already have the online pension tracing service to help people locate and check their state pension which has helped 9 million people.”

“This department is doing a huge amount to help people save and of course, auto-enrolment is overwhelmingly, in the last six years 10 million people have signed up, a sign we are working with the quiet revolution.”

Furthermore, Baroness Buscombe said that the quoted Department for Work and Pensions figure of 50 million “lost” pensions was misleading, and in fact the pots would be “dormant”.

The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries immediate past president, Marjorie Ngwenya, said: “The pensions dashboard is an open goal for the government. We urge the DWP to stick with its commitment to create this much-needed tool for consumers.

“The dashboard, which will allow individuals to see all of their pension pots in one place, has the strong backing of the pensions industry, consumer groups and customers themselves. Given the changing pensions landscape, it’s more important than ever that government continues to work with industry to make this tool a reality.”

Addressing the Work and Pensions Committee last week, Pensions Minister Guy Opperman said: “The long and short of it is that the government has to make a decision. When it is made we will communicate it in the appropriate and proper way.

“Clearly you can quote back to me things I’ve said in the past, the Department for Work and Pensions has done a feasibility study, they are reviewing that and a decision will be made.”

Opperman added that he couldn’t comment on the date that the feasibility study will be published, but would be disappointed if it wasn’t this year.

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