Financial specialists are claiming that a three year delay in launching the long awaited pensions dashboards is ‘letting down a generation of savers’.
The dashboards have been designed to allow pension savers to keep track of all their retirement savings in one place and were expected to be introduced last year.
But the government’s Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) said the complexity of setting up the system means it must be delayed until 2023.
Previously described as ‘a game changer’, the dashboards have been designed to simplify the complex UK pension system and enable consumers to see all their savings, including state pension and workplace schemes or personal plans, in one digital app on their smartphones.
Many savers start a new pension when they change jobs, particularly since auto-enrolment began, and can therefore have many separate accounts in their name.
When the new system launches it is planned that savers will have a clear idea of how much they have already saved and allow them to work out how much more they will need to fund a comfortable retirement.
MaPs has been overseeing the organisation of the service since last year and said that schemes and providers will be compelled to connect to the dashboards by law in 2023.
The delay was heavily criticised by Helen Morrisey, pension specialist at Royal London, who said: “After already progressing at a snail’s pace for some time, it is hugely disappointing to see this project further delayed.
“Of course, such projects are complex, but the potential that dashboards have to help people take control of their retirement planning is huge and must be grasped. Every delay risks letting down a generation of savers.”
Which? spokesman Gareth Shaw said savers would be ‘disappointed’ and called for updates ‘as some consumers have struggled for too long with a complex, fragmented pensions system’.
But senior analyst Tom Selby of A J Bell said the delay was necessary to make sure the system worked from the start.
He said: “It is a colossal undertaking and rushing the introduction of half-baked pensions dashboards would have risked causing terminal damage to a project which has the potential to revolutionise retirement engagement in the UK.”
Former pensions minister Sir Steve Webb agreed, saying: “With a pension system as fragmented as the one we have in the UK, a pensions dashboard is a mammoth task involving data on literally hundreds of millions of pension pots and pension entitlements.
“This was never something that was going to take just a few months to sort out. It is good that we now have a realistic timetable rather than a fantasy timetable promoted by politicians.”
Chris Curry, of MaPS, said: “The Money and Pensions Service established the Pensions Dashboards Programme (PDP) team in 2019 to design and implement the ecosystem that will make pensions dashboards work. Today is the first time the PDP has set out indicative timeframes for the development of dashboards.
“While dashboards are a simple concept, the delivery of dashboards will be complex and is reliant on collaboration between the PDP and many other organisations across Government, regulators, dashboard providers, pension schemes and providers to complete actions at a specific time.
“Already, through the qualitative research and the Call for Input, industry has provided useful insight into the challenges of verifying people’s identities and matching them to pensions.”