Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd has pledged to end the long wait for online dashboards to help people to keep track of their pension pots, but with no date for introducing legislation.
She said the idea was being given the green light eight months after it was thrown into doubt because the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was distracted by problems with universal credit.
Her pledge has come in the official response to a consultation on the plan and four months after the department published a feasibility study that indicated the first dashboard could be made available this year.
Rudd said: “It's more important than ever that people understand their pensions and prepare for financial security in later life.
“Dashboards have the potential to transform the way we all think about and plan for retirement, providing clear and simple information regarding pension savings in one place online.
“I'm looking forward to seeing the first industry dashboards later this year.”
Furthermore, the DWP said information about the value of people’s state pension payments – described as a “vital component” by the consumer group Which? – would be “included as soon as possible”.
Models will be developed and tested by the industry from this year, overseen by a new single financial guidance body (SFGB), the department announced.
The plan is to give people all the facts and figures about their pensions and potential retirement income in one place. At present, when people build up savings with different employers for when they retire, they can only look at these pension pots separately.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) welcomed the move, saying: "The digital retirement revolution is here at last. All the pieces are being put in place to deliver the easy access to retirement information everybody needs.”
Frank Field, the chair of the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, also hailed “a welcome sign that ministers are fully committed to the project”.
He added, however: “We have waited long enough for the pensions dashboard, and any unnecessary delay would be intolerable.”
However, Rudd’s announcement said only that a law to compel all pension providers to to make consumers’ data available to them through a dashboard would follow “at the earliest opportunity”.
The DWP already has a public information website on the project, and work has been going for some years on the central components and back end processes for the dashboards. But there had been concerns last summer that the plan would be dropped, largely because of the effort needed in the DWP to deal with the ongoing problems over universal credit.
With auto-enrolment nudging millions into pensions saving, the average person is expected to have 11 jobs – and, therefore, 11 different pension pots - over the course of their working life. This makes it more difficult for them to keep track of their total pension entitlements.
It is expected to take three to four years for most pension providers to put together the information to launch their dashboards.
Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0