Opperman seeks update on schemes' readiness for the pensions dashboard

Pensions Minister, Guy Opperman, has written to pension schemes to gather evidence on how ready they are to submit good quality data for the future introduction of the pensions dashboard.

In a letter seen by Pensions Age, Opperman stated that he wanted to try and “galvanise the approach of the industry”, emphasising that "the need for pensions dashboards is stronger than ever".

Opperman stressed that he will "introduce regulations at speed" following the passing of the Pension Schemes Bill, reiterating that data must be ready and of "good quality".

The government plans to allow early adopters to connect to the dashboard infrastructure on a voluntary basis before it becomes mandatory.

Opperman also asked those who do not feel like they are ready so submit good quality data how they would address this.

The Department for Work and Pensions recently emphasised that the pension scheme bill had remained a "priority" amid the pandemic, whilst Opperman has also previously warned that schemes who are not data-ready will face "draconian penalties".

Opperman has now asked a number of schemes for feedback as to what they are doing in order to review and cleanse members’ data, requesting an assessment of their position on data quality and preparedness.

There were a total of eight questions posed by the minister, including what schemes' current state of readiness to deliver data quality via dashboards is, and what minimum lead-in time is needed between final data standards being set and organisations being able to supply this data.

This input will then be fed into the Pensions Dashboard Programme (PDP) team’s work.

Opperman highlighted that when PDP published its first update in April of this year, the “prevailing circumstances” had caused the group to hold back its call for input on data.

He added, however, that PDP now plans to engage with schemes over the summer, with a number of stakeholders having already started to feed in their thoughts.

This is in addition to a more in-depth piece of research already being underway, led by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC), with its findings expected “in the coming weeks”.

Opperman stated that this would allow PDP to finalise data requirements by Winter 2020 “at the latest”.

He continued: “Government remains fully committed to delivering the legislation to support the introduction of safe, comprehensive and effective pensions dashboard.

“I will introduce regulations at speed following the completion of the Pension Schemes Bill through Parliament this year.

“My message to you on data readiness is clear: neither government or industry can afford to sit back and wait for the legislation before getting ready to bring pensions into the digital age.

“Planning and acting now should maximise your opportunities and reduce the risks and challenges you face in preparing for dashboards”.

Commenting on the letter, ITM director, Matt Dodds, added: “This is not a shock, the minister has been clear on his intent to push ahead with pensions dashboards for a long time.

“And rightly so, members should be able to see how much they have saved for retirement and where it is.

“Pensions dashboards will only be as good as the data that they use and share – and we know from experience that data readiness varies greatly across the sub-sectors of the industry defined by Maps.

“Some have much more work to do than others, but it is no longer acceptable for schemes and providers to put-off engaging with what it really means to be data ready for pensions dashboards.

“Every sub-sector of the industry needs to sit up, take note, and get data ready."

He concluded: “Despite other distractions there may be in the wider economy, the message from government with this clear directive and the firmer basis for superfunds, is that the industry must make real progress in key areas that impact the security and understanding of members’ benefits.”

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