DWP to respond on dashboards before summer recess; PDP standards consultation to follow

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is expected to respond to the recent consultation on the draft regulations for the pensions dashboards before summer recess, with the regulations themselves likely to be laid in parliament later this year.

Speaking at the Pensions Age Northern Conference, Pensions Dashboards Programme (PDP) principal, Chris Curry, confirmed that dashboards were still on track for 2023, with less than 12 months until certain schemes are expected to begin onboarding.

Recent weeks have also seen further progress in the alpha stage of testing, according to Curry, who confirmed that, as of the end of the month, there was a “working prototype of a basic model”.

"There are still things to add and to build to go around that, but the core technical architecture is now there to be evolved and developed as we go through," he continued.

"We're still testing that and we're gonna be testing that for the next two to three months to make sure that it works properly. We've also started to introduce our first alpha pension providers into that ecosystem, and one of them has already connected up to the system."

In line with this, he confirmed that the DWP is expected to respond to the recent consultation "before summer recess", which will provide a "definitive statement" of what exactly the regulations will include and provide some certainty to the industry, with the regulations themselves likely to be laid "later this year".

In addition to this, Curry confirmed that the PDP will be running a further consultation on the specific standards for dashboards following this, which the PDP will look to work with the industry on through webinars and events.

"Standards are going to be very important to what we're doing, and you will see those come out again before the summer recess," he stated.

"There will be a consultation on those, unfortunately because of the timing it will be over the summer, but we also want to make sure that we are working with people in a way that's as effective and efficient as possible."

In response to industry concerns, Curry also reassured pension scheme trustees that they will not be liable for any identity verification authorisation.

"We are asking pension providers to share a lot of data," he acknowledged, "and providers need to be reassured that they are going to be acting within existing data protection laws, that they are gonna be GDPR compliant, and that they're not opening themselves up to any additional liabilities above and beyond those they already face."

However, he confirmed that there are already a number of regulatory frameworks which cover much of the activity on pensions guidance.

Furthermore, whilst he clarified that PDP cannot say that trustees will not be liable for anything, as this is dependent on a number of other organisations, such as The Pensions Regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, he confirmed that there some areas of certainty.

"What we can say is that that you're not liable for any identity verification authorization, as that is done purely within the infrastructure," he explained.

"There will be legislation put in place and there will be standards put in place, and it's your responsibility to comply with those standards and that legislation, but if you comply with that, there is very little left for you to consider exactly what liability remains."

Curry also confirmed that PDP will be providing further information on this issue later this year, to clarify the areas of certainty on liability and to highlight what areas are trustees' responsibility.

"We know that the trustees in particular will take those those responsibilities very seriously and will want to make sure that they are not opening themselves up to a liability issue by connecting up to the patient's dashboards ecosystem," he said.

"Equally though, it will be a legal requirement to connect up ecosystems and that should help with a number of liability issues."

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