Pensions minister Guy Opperman has rebuffed concerns over the timescale of the Pensions Dashboards Programme, adding that the project would have moved at even greater speed if he had his way – https://t.co/G60ch5mH33@GuyOpperman @PensionsDboards @TMiddletonFPMI @aca_news pic.twitter.com/frzp14OVJZ
— Pensions Expert (@pensions_expert) September 2, 2022
For some reason , both Pension Expert and Professional Pensions chose to run the same story on an early August Friday afternoon around the “Zero Tolerance” stance adopted by the Pensions Minister on a podcast you could have listened to on this blog at any time this week.
In that blog I posed the question “signing off or stepping up” which is a question that will be on Guy Opperman’s mind this weekend as he awaits the result of Monday’s Prime Ministerial election.
Is it surprising that the Minister chooses to speak his mind over what he considers the obstructive behavior of parts of the pension industry? I don’t think so. He will feel responsible if he leaves office that the dashboard that the DWP inherited from the Treasury on his watch has not materialised as Government promised and is, at the time of writing , three years late in delivery.
His concern is not shared by those parts of the industry who, rather than let people see all their pensions and pension pots in one place, are fearful that there will not be enough user testing, not enough time for data cleansing, not enough worrying about data security, negative reactions to poorly performing pots and questions from dashboard users clogging up the helplines of pension providers.
Like Guy Opperman, I suspect most people have zero tolerance of further delays in a service that simply sets out to find and display their pensions. Whether this is done by MaPs, Aviva or anybody else is frankly irrelevant to the saver.
As to the “great speed” the project is supposed to be moving at, if the benchmark is a glacier, the observation may be correct. But we live in a digital age where information passes from one place to another in nanoseconds. If the user experience is that a cursor hangs for ten seconds rather than one, then we are in that digital age – albeit at the slow end. But we are in a different age from the “two to three weeks” that are the turnaround times for most data requests we make to pension providers.
If any of the critics of the dashboard’s speed think that it might damage pensions, they should consider the current situation where people step back in time when talking with their pension provider.
I have no idea whether Liz Truss will reappoint Guy Opperman to be Minister for Pensions and Financial Inclusion. Since the title is of Opperman’s making, I am not sure the role will continue. Though pensions is important enough a topic to deserve a full ministerial mandate, Opperman accepted the job as a junior minister and has delivered a lot in his five years. He has shown a stickability that contrasts with the vast majority of his ministerial colleagues and many of his predecessors.
So I think that any implication that Opperman is not on the side of the consumer – is a little unfair.
I have a lot of time with for Tim Middleton, and have no reason to take issue with his statement . It is the consumer who matters, not the reputation of the Minister or Pension Industry. But if we are to side with the consumer, then let’s accept that further delays to the dashboard timetable are not in the interests of the consumer.