Industry raises concerns with PDP data requirements

Members of the pensions industry have expressed concerns about some of the data requirements outlined in the Pensions Dashboards Project's (PDP) call for input on staging.

Responding to the call for input, which closed today, LCP partner, Steve Webb, warned that while it was positive that “detail about how dashboards are going to work” was emerging, “the determination to go live with estimated retirement incomes (ERI) as well as memberships could actually delay the launch”.

LCP noted that supplying data on membership, value and ERI was likely to be a "huge job" for some schemes, particularly certain defined benefit schemes that do not routinely calculate ERIs for deferred members.

He continued: “Re-uniting people with lost pensions is a huge potential positive from dashboards and this shouldn’t be delayed any longer.

“We also need to recognise that when people see the data on dashboards they will have dozens of questions and presenting them with value data will greatly increase the pressure on schemes and employers to have the capacity to handle them. A phased approach to accessing the dashboard would also be a good idea.”

Hymans Robertson client manager third party administration, Karl Lidgley, also emphasised his support and stressed the importance of urgently reuniting savers with lost pension pots.

He stated: said: “The fact that a vast number of pension plans are lost or unclaimed is a vital factor in the timing of the stages for the rollout. The Association of British Insurers estimated that there are 1.6 million lost pensions plans with the government predicting there will be 50 million dormant and lost pensions by 2050.

“This orphaned pension problem is only going to increase due to a rise in job changing, particularly as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, making it an even more urgent issue. The initial dashboard should focus, on the 'find' function for consumers with the 'view' functionality to be developed later.

“A simple 'find' service will allow consumers to identify their pension providers and put them into contact with the administrators. This could be rolled out in the timeframes outlined in the call for input and allow the industry time to develop a standard approach to reporting the ERI required for the full 'view' functionality.”

He added that time needed to be taken over ERI, noting that the project is “currently relying on existing disclosure regulations which don’t provide a uniform way of displaying ERI information to members”, which “could lead to poor decision making and disengagement for pensions dashboards”.

Society of Pensions Professionals former president, Paul McGlone, also found the ERI issue problematic, stating that it “must be resolved in good time if the implementation of the dashboard is to be a success”.

He added: “But there are a range of wider areas that also need clarification before the industry can start work in earnest on delivering to the proposed timescales.”

B&CE head of policy, Tim Gosling, was concerned about the speed of the project, stating that it needed to happen by early 2023 and noting that “pension schemes need final technical specifications and legal certainty” before they can do their part to make that happen.

He continued: “The Money and Pensions Service (Maps) project team has made impressive progress on over the last 18 months but there are a lot of blanks to fill. It’s important that Maps, the Department for Work and Pensions and The Pensions Regulator continue talking directly to the pensions sector and provide clarity on what’s required to data providers as soon as possible.

“This clarity on regulations and technical requirements is key to a smooth launch for pension dashboards.”

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