The lack of an accountable dashboard owner is at the heart of the problem

The Pensions Minister Laura Trott has announced a delay in the connection deadlines to the dashboard till October 2026. In her announcement yesterday (June 9th) there was no mention of the promised CEO for the dashboard. The Pension Dashboard Programme simply commented

Guidance will be published that will detail when pension providers and schemes are expected to connect to dashboards.

The bet I never wanted to win

In 2018, I made a bet with MaPS then CEO John Govett that the dashboard wouldn’t be ready by 2028, by which time I’d be drawing my state pension. He laughed, so did Guy Opperman. Who’s laughing now?

Well not me – that’s for sure; the announcement by Pensions Minister, Laura Trott that the drop dead hook up time for dashboards is now the end of October 2026 means I’m closing in on a pyrrhic victory – that’s the kind of victory where no-one is laughing.

MaPS took on the task of delivering the dashboard without a clue what that meant and by January 2019 John Govett had proved he wasn’t the man for the job. A couple of fallow years followed, Caroline Siarkiewicz arrived and she’ll have gone early next year. A third  CEO  will have to get to grips with a problem that MaPS was never designed to solve.

I saw Caroline at the PLSA event – a grand dinner.We exchanged pleasant conversation, I didn’t mention the D-word. I didn’t know whether she felt any accountability for the bet, everyone was having a fine time. She told me that we could expect news on the dashboard very soon – she was right, if what the Minister said was “news”.

I wonder if she is responsible for recruiting the new CEO of the Pension Dashboard Program , mentioned in the March update from the Pensions Minister but not in the June one. Who would want that job?

As far as I can see – no one is responsible for the dashboard delivery, indeed we don’t even know what delivery means any more. The Dashboard Availability Point has never been set (just as well). We are told by Laura Trott that it could be earlier than the drop dead data date, but then it could be later. Who knows? ……….Who cares?

Well nobody seems to care much at PDP/MaPS/TPR/DWP or even FCA. Infact this further delay is being sold as a windfall for the data managers who now have another years to scrub their data  shiny clean. It’s a godsend for everyone except the punters who had been given an expectation of a dashboard by 2019 and now should put aside any hope of help on finding pensions indefinitely. The narrative I’m hearing is

If you’ve lost pots, then tough, better they stay lost than the dashboard launches incomplete

Year after year we wait, my business has a  business plan which has had implementation pushed back four times – make that five.

There are trade bodies such as PLSA, PASA and ABI who can urge members to keep their eye on the prize. On the day of this latest announcement, PASA published guidance on “dashboard values” which looks at

“good practice approaches to providing value data to dashboards”

The ABI and PLSA severally produce statements welcoming what they see as “clarification”.

There are noble organisations like MoneyHub, Bravura and Altus  who have been piloting for nothing. They have no choice but put a brave face on it.

There are other organisation like the Lang Cat who sit between the advisers and their clients and are less enthusiastic.

Then there’s the rest of us. The public are on a promise and it is hard for them to work out who is breaking it.

There is a sullen indignation amongst the general population against all parties to this slow train crash. It will be stoked by the newspapers and broadcast media, there is only a matter of time till Panorama or similar makes a documentary about the long string of failures that have led to what Professional Pensions refers to as

20-plus years in the making and still not there yet

Set against the risks of being scammed out of data or even pot, the PPI’s published figure of £28bn of “pots” gone missing is a gloomy reminder that we are no closer to finding lost pensions than we were in 2002 or 2016 (when the concept of a pension finding service was introduced) .

There is more suspicion created by the pensions industry not being able to show people their entitlements than concern over data and pots we do not know we have. We know we don’t know, but we don’t know what it is.

A “reset”

When the Pension Dashboard Program was set up, it put Chris Curry in charge. A huge public project was made someone’s “second job”. Chris is a brilliant ambassador for the dashboard but he is part time and he does not have the clout of MaPS’ CEO , let alone a Government Minister.

Consequently , we were promised a new CEO of the Pensions Dashboard and to date we have no such person. Instead of leadership , we have had design by committee and this has led to scope creep. The Dashboards Available Point is simply too ambitious but there is no one who can call this out , at least not within the Pensions Dashboard Programme.

For the DWP, the dashboard is an albatross that hangs around their neck . It’s new idea is to make itself unaccountable for the staging of dashboard connectivity meaning that the pensions industry will have to argue among itself in what order they hook up to the dashboard infrastructure.

The concern is that the bulk of data providers leave it to the last moment and , instead of an orderly queue, there is a disorderly scrimmage as the “drop dead date” approaches.

The DWP is paying the problem scant attention, it’s eye is on other things. Frankly it needs to rethink the scale of its concept and scale it back. Alan Chaplin is right

Forget the presentation of a holistic view of people’s pension entitlement. Let’s start with a simple pension finding service, deliverable prior to the “drop dead date” and let’s put someone in charge whose sole focus on making that happen. All the rest, all the stuff that requires FCA regulation and actuarial argument, can come later.

The alternative is that I win the bet I never wanted to get paid out on.

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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1 Response to The lack of an accountable dashboard owner is at the heart of the problem

  1. John Mather says:

    2028? Optimist.

    I will give you a bet that it won’t be available until after 2035 if at all

    What you will get is the workplace pension dashboard with the purpose of attracting
    Other pots

    A universal dashboard……probably never

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