Industry rallies in support of dashboard amid fears McVey plans to scrap platform

The pension industry has hit back at reports that the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Ester McVey, is planning to scrap the long-awaited pensions dashboard.

A report in The Times today, 17 July 2018, said that McVey is looking to "kill off" the project, set to be launched in April 2019, which she feels should not be provided by the state, and that it will distract from the government’s attempt to implement universal credit.

The Department for Work and Pensions was due to release a feasibility study on the dashboard in April, however friction between the industry and the government over whether it was going to be a single dashboard or a multiple dashboard and debate about who is going to pay for the project has meant it has been delayed.

Sources told The Times that McVey was waiting until MPs start their summer break and that last night industry figures made a last-ditch attempt to save the policy.

The DWP said that the feasibility study is still ongoing.

A recent study by the Tax Incentivised Savings Association found that a majority, 71 per cent, of the industry were in favour of multiple dashboards, however, research by The People’s Pension (TPP) found that 70 per cent of workers with a private or workplace pension favoured a single pensions dashboard.

In a speech at the Pensions and Lifetime Association (PLSA) annual conference in October 2017, Pensions Minister Guy Opperman said: "Make no mistake, the dashboard will happen."

Rumours that McVey is looking to ditch the online pensions tracker has riled the pensions industry, who have piled in resources to ensure the platform would work for millions of savers and ultimately cost taxpayers very little.

TPP head of policy, Andy Tarrant, said: “The government should be doing everything possible to help people plan ahead. With one in five people across the UK having lost track of a pension, the dashboard will help ensure people keep track of all their savings … helping them to understand what their retirement might look like.”

The Association of British Insurers director general Huw Evans said that it is vital the government stands by its promise on the dashboard which would help millions save and help combat pensions fraud.

Evans commented: "This is an initiative with cross-party support, backed by consumer groups, which is a win-win for everyone. The pensions industry is committed to helping but we need government involvement to ensure the system works fairly for everyone.”

Furthermore, Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association policy lead on engagement, EU and regulation, James Walsh, said that it fully expects the government to continue leading on the dashboard.

"With the average person now estimated to have 11 jobs over their lifetime, there is the potential for millions of lost pension pots in the future which would mean savers losing out. The dashboard would be crucial in helping people keep track of their money and may even encourage people to save more," he said.

Government cooperation on the dashboard is vital as it would require schemes to standardise their data in a way that would require legislation, as well as the need for the platform to be regulated.

Aegon head of pensions Kate Smith said: “The pension industry stands ready to go ahead with the dashboard and constant delays and procrastination have been unhelpful in the extreme. There was never any intention for the government to fund this project, it was always going to be financed by the industry, the question was exactly how?”

The news follows the failure of the government to implement a cold-calling ban by its June deadline, announcing last week that it has only just started to seek industry views around the draft regulations of the ban.

Work and Pensions committee chair Frank Field said he would be pressing McVey on her plans for the service.

The DWP told The Times that it will make an announcement when it has one to make.

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