Ministers have been urged to think again after throwing into jeopardy a long planned online dashboard to help people to keep track of their pension pots.
The pensions industry and consumer groups have joined forces to attack hints that the project – promised two years ago – will be axed because of other problems at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
The aim was to allow savers to view all their pension arrangements, including entitlement to the state pension, aggregated on a single website, as a complete guide to retirement income. The service would also help people to recover lost or forgotten pensions and was intended to be largely funded by the industry.
But Esther McVey, the work and pensions secretary, is reported to believe the dashboard service would be a distraction as she wrestles with the troubled universal credit scheme.
Asked to scotch the rumours of its imminent demise, Guy Opperman (pictured), the pensions minister, instead confirmed that it was under threat.
“The department and Government have been doing a feasibility study, they are then reviewing that, and a decision will be made,” he told MPs, before they left for their summer break.
“Long and short of it is, you’ll understand that this is a matter on which the Government has to make a decision. No decision has been made.”
The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA), representing pensions schemes, said the dashboard was “crucial in helping people keep track of their money and may even encourage people to save more”.
“The dashboard would be an essential tool for savers when tackling the minefield that is retirement saving and it’s vital the Government sticks to its word,” said spokesperson James Walsh.
“With the average person now estimated to have 11 jobs over their lifetime, there is the potential for millions of lost pension pots in the future which would mean savers losing out.
“The pensions industry is strongly behind this initiative. Its creation is vital in helping millions of savers have a better retirement.”
John Lawson, head of financial research at insurer Aviva, echoed the criticism, saying that “ditching the dashboard would be a huge mistake”.
Consumer group Which? warned ministers would be “abandoning millions of people who struggle to understand their own pension savings” if they axed the project.
The dashboard was initially scheduled for launch in 2019, with the ability to find details on about 100 million individual pensions from more than 300 companies, along with the state and final salary pensions.
Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0