Govt ruling out dashboard timetable ‘extremely disappointing’ – MPs

The Work and Pensions Committee has labelled the government’s decision not to commit to a published timetable for the rollout of the pensions dashboard as “extremely disappointing”.

MPs had recommended the move in a report to government in August, alongside other recommendations that the government has committed to.

However, the government rejected the committee’s suggestion of publishing a timetable by the end of 2019 for the implementation of the dashboard.

Work and Pensions Committee chair, Frank Field, said that the government was “missing a trick” by not committing to the timetable.

“We clearly need a central, national, pensions ‘account’, that every individual could access not only to monitor directly how their own retirement savings and planning is shaping up, but also genuinely compare all the vying ‘offers’ to manage their savings,” he added.

“This requires that the dashboard has details of the size of the state retirement pensions.”

MPs noted that the government was requiring the industry to provide pensions data ready for the launch of the dashboard but was not committed to preparing its own data in time.

AJ Bell senior analyst, Tom Selby, said that it was “critical” that state pension data from the government was made available “as soon as possible”.

He continued: “Failure to do this would be a huge wasted opportunity and risk undermining the success of the entire project.

“It would also send an incredibly negative message to consumers and the pensions industry about the government’s own commitment to dashboards beyond positive words.

“While we know the implementation of dashboards will be a slow burn, a timetable to provide data as suggested by the Commission should help focus minds and expectations.”

Although the government did not commit to a timetable, it did promise to review the auto-enrolment charge cap, primarily focusing in on the application of flat fees to dormant pots.

The government stated that it “accepts the committee’s analysis of the effect of flat fee charging structures on small pots, especially dormant pots, and as part of the review will give particular consideration to whether restrictions to the use of this charge structure in some circumstances is necessary to protect pension scheme members”.

The committee described this as “a welcome move”.

Selby added: “The auto-enrolment charge cap is ripe for review and in that context it makes sense to look at the application of certain charging structures too. Clearly the risk with flat fees is that small pots can be eroded to zero, which clearly isn’t a good outcome.

“More broadly, it is important workplace pension providers who are benefitting from economies of scale are encouraged to pass these on to savers.

“Even a small difference in charges can add thousands of pounds to the value of someone’s retirement pot over the long-term, and it is important the government doesn’t settle for 0.75 per cent in a world where inertia continues to dominate consumer behaviour.”

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