The pension dashboard needs more than a reset – it needs a rethink.

Aon’s bizarre messaging to keep us working on dashboard data and connectivity.

The dashboard is being delayed again. Team PDP is already four years late getting the pension dashboard  crossing the line but our grand-prix racecar is in the best of hands –  even with that retro-refuelling pipe!

It was originally intended that pension schemes would join in three waves, with large schemes due to jump on between August this year and September 2024, medium schemes between October 2024 and October 2025 and smaller schemes from 2026.  That timetable has been scrapped – there is no new timetable.

That we are already a number of laps behind our European counterparts is of no consequence to the current Minister for Pensions. This is not a problem that happened on her watch, like successive ministers over the last decade, she is merely managing someone else’s bright idea.

Like the iconic watch,  ministers never actually own  dashboards , they just look after them for the next generation.

The dashboard’s illustrious timeline

This dashboard won’t be ready in this parliament and there’s no certainty it will be ready in the next.  The dashboard will be  “transforming how consumers think and plan for their retirement” but not for a few years yet.

The story of the dashboard dates back into the last millennium with Hansard recording Frank Field being told by the then DWP SOS that Combined Pension Forecasts had been piloted in 1999!

Nearly a quarter of a century has passed since that pilot and now we hear that the digital descendent of the CPF is to be delayed again as Government struggles to display  digitally combined pension forecasts on our phones.

In the meantime we have seen open banking become a reality for most of the population with payments managed in seconds with a flick of a finger.

Open Banking happened because of the resolute refusal of a group of people who refused to take “no” for an answer. Requiring the core retail banks to sign up to a set of protocols and make data available to their customers sparked a step-change in our approach to banking.

Today, nobody writes cheques and most of us even use a cashpoint, we seldom visit banks and the time we take managing our finances has been radically reduced. We are reminded of when we have a bill to come by smart messaging and banks can now display pension balances on their apps in the spirit of pension forecasts.

All of this started from a very small base. Pension dashboards were launched in 2016 as pensions answer to open banking. The enthusiasts did open banking, the DWP and MaPS have stymied open pensions.

Now we hear, despite all promises , the pension dashboard is further delayed, with the dashboard availability point for consumers now receding into the second half of the decade.

Once again, we have no timetable. The odds of my accessing my state pension  (Nov 28) before my dashboard in BAU, are shortening.  Amidst all this – Aon can still liken progress to a pit-stop on a grand prix and PASA , the ABI and the PLSA can breathe a sigh of relief.

The days of sabre rattling from Guy Opperman against unprepared schemes are long gone. The DWP , MaPS and the PDP is now looking more like the special military operation this time last year.

For 7 years this blog has been calling for a simple pension finding service from which we can build. The DWP has not listened and along with MaPS they’ve made an arse of this – just as predicted. It sounds to me like Laura Trott has worked this out.

The Statement from the MfP

Laura Trott’s statement to the house 02/03/23

Time for a rethink

It is time to rethink what people want from a pension dashboard

Here are my two must-haves

  1. A means to find my lost pots
  2. A display of all the pots I have and links to pots  I may have

There’s £26bn in lost pots, Martin Lewis dedicates half his show to it.

People don’t lose their DB entitlements – they don’t lose their state pensions, they lose their pesky pots.

Here are my three nice to haves

  1. A reminder of where  I have defined benefit pension rights (with links)
  2. a forecast of my entitlement to my state pension
  3. a forecast of my defined benefit pensions

If you can remind me who’ll be paying my defined benefits – that’s kind. Yes it would be nice to know what I’ve got coming but I’m not holding you to it, please don’t bother me with GMP rectification , McCloud and complex forecasts of future inflation.

Here are the things I am really not bothered about

  1. Certainty about what my pots and pensions will give me in the future
  2. Completeness of information – I can live with information gaps
  3. Being scammed – sorry but I expect to be protected from data mismanagement

If you can’t be certain what my pension is going to be – tell me this is your best guess – be honest and brave

If you won’t link your data to dashboards say so, the dashboard can list all the schemes that couldn’t find a way to make their data available. Be honest about your incompetence.

And if you can’t share data with a pension dashboard without the risk of it being stolen, don’t  – just tell us that you can’t share data securely (and we’ll giggle).

Please listen this time.

Every successful dashboard in Europe and around the world has started by displaying the information it can display with the promise of completeness in years ahead.

If when this digital dashboard kicked off under the Treasury in 2016, we had limited its scope to my nice to haves , we could have had an operating dashboard finding pots and reminding us of pension rights by the original delivery date in 2019.

No one listened to the people who called for open pensions , instead the DWP took control (as they are doing now) and in a series of hideous meetings transformed dashboards from fintech enterprise to 20th century mainframe mindset.

Yes Britain has the most complicated pension system in the world, which is why we need a dashboard more than any other country.

But it may not be this decade that we   deliver a dashboard that focusses on the things ordinary people aren’t that bothered about.

We need to prioritise, work out what we can deliver now and deliver it. We must stop this foolishness that the dashboard available point needs to deliver the lot – it can’t.

Delivery must be staged with the priorities around the things that matter most to people- finding their pots and showing what can be found.

We must put a full time person in charge (maybe Chris Curry but the evidence is he can’t run this and job run the PPI) . We must take MaPS out of the equation and let it sort itself out – the dashboard is first and foremost a technology project- it needs to be treated as such.

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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