Business is booming.

Report exposes problems plaguing pension dashboards

Unlock the Editor’s Digest for free

A lack of digital skills and ineffective governance have fuelled delays in the development of pension dashboards, according to a new report from the national spending watchdog.

The government first proposed plans for pension dashboards in 2016, arguing the new online tool could benefit millions of savers who find it hard to keep track of multiple pension pots built up over a working life. This would allow savers to see all their pensions — state, workplace and personal, in one place.

Almost eight years on from that pledge, and with no date set for the public to access the dashboards, a report by the National Audit Office has chronicled a range of delivery problems for the project which in part contributed to an estimated £54mn rise in costs.

“Once completed, the pension dashboard programme (PDP) could benefit millions of people by providing a secure, comprehensive and online point of access for information about their pensions,” said Gareth Davies, head of the NAO.

“However, delivery delays due to shortfalls in digital capacity and capability have pushed back the final deadline for pension providers and schemes to connect to the PDP by a year, with no date currently set for citizens to benefit,” he said.

The report noted that in 2019, the Department for Work and Pensions delegated responsibility for delivering the programme, or the digital architecture to make dashboards work, to one of its arms-length bodies, the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS).  

“However, it did not have assurance at the outset that MaPS — which was formed in October 2018 — had the capacity and capability to deliver a major digital programme such as the PDP,” said the report.

Between 2020 and mid-2022, DWP and MaPS “made progress” in delivering important elements of the pensions dashboards system, said the report. However, in December 2022, MaPS informed DWP that the PDP’s delivery timetable was no longer viable.

A subsequent review carried out by DWP in February 2023 found that multiple factors had contributed to delivery problems, including a “lack of skilled digital resources and ineffective programme governance”. 

Currently, pension providers and schemes are required to connect to the dashboard’s digital architecture by October 2026, one year later than planned. However, the report noted the DWP was “yet to specify” when pensions dashboards would become available to the estimated 16.3mn users who could stand to benefit. 

The NAO said a range of factors, including an increase in supplier costs, had led to the estimated costs of the pension dashboard programme rising from £235mn in 2020 to £289mn in 2023, an increase of 23 per cent.

“Dashboards have the potential to empower pension savers, but they’ve been badly let down by a project that has, so far, overpromised and underdelivered,” said Rachel Vahey, head of public policy at AJ Bell, an investment platform provider. 

The NAO noted that though progress had been made during a “reset”, the DWP and MaPS “must continue to work closely to ensure the final stages of the PDP are delivered smoothly and the public can begin to have access to this important service”.

The DWP said: “Action taken by the DWP to reset the programme to get it on track for successful delivery means connection testing will begin from August 2024, before a wider onboarding of pension schemes and providers from April 2025.”

Source link

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.