With a Queens Speech and a pensions bill only a week away, it’s timely of the Times to publish research from Ipsos Mori on the plight of UK retirement savers trying to keep track of their savings.
This piece is by Kate Palmer, one of a number of young female journalists explaining pension problems properly. Her point is that it’s not just those in their 50s and 60s who lose track of their savings, it’s all of us.
A quarter of workers say they have lost the paperwork for private pensions they have saved into at previous jobs, and 13% say they have forgotten how to log in to old workplace schemes online, according to a survey of British adults by Ipsos Mori.
The number of lost private pensions surged to 13.6m last year, according to the Office for National Statistics — a 17% annual increase. These so-called “preserved pensions” are usually held with former employers.
A quarter of the 1,102 workers surveyed by Ipsos Mori said they found it difficult to keep track of their various pensions because they had changed jobs so many times, while 21% said that they encountered problems in keeping up to date after moving house.
Some 8% of savers said they had no interest in their pensions.
A government project in development, the pensions dashboard, is intended to help savers keep track of all their pensions in one place online. However, it has been delayed by technical issues and the all-consuming preparations for Brexit.
Pension providers have complained about delays to the dashboard’s launch, which was originally planned for this year, saying that they do not know what information they might need to share and who will be responsible for keeping people’s data safe.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which is in charge of the project, has already warned firms that it will have to ask them to share data voluntarily, because it has not yet created rules that will mandate providers to share it in time for the launch. The DWP is still setting out a timetable for the project. It said it intends to introduce the dashboard at the “earliest possible opportunity”.
Younger savers are most likely to support the long-awaited scheme, according to Ipsos Mori’s research. Nearly nine in 10 workers aged 18-34 said a single online system where they could see all of their work pensions in one place would be useful, compared with two-thirds of savers overall.
In general, younger workers are more likely than older generations to shun the idea of a “job for life” and may have many different pension pots — and more accounts to lose track of — by the time they retire.
“The number of people with multiple pensions is only going to grow,” said Joanna Crossfield of Ipsos Mori. “A dashboard is clearly seen as a way to make keeping track of these easier.”
She added: “People already find pensions complicated and overwhelming. A dashboard must help to address this rather than add to it.”
Talking on Friday with the dashboard/s new principal, Chris Curry, I sense a new pragmatism about dashboard delivery. There is no doubt the public don’t just want- they expect – a dashboard soon, but – as Kate and Ipsos point out, it is the capacity of the pensions dashboard to help us track down lost pensions that is what we most want and anticipate.
While I can understand why many pension providers are nervous about publicly displaying personal data – I can see no argument for any provider not to subscribe to a national pension finding service that links us to our pensions history.
I for one, are fervently hoping that we have a Queens Speech , with a pensions dashboard in it, that makes the nation’s hope a reality.