An awful lot of us don’t have the time or patience to dedicate to financial admin. It means we might have a rough idea of how many pensions we have, and there’s a reasonable chance we have the details of where at least most of them are held (in a stack of paperwork somewhere), but we’re not entirely certain about any of it.
Meanwhile, many of us couldn’t come close to calculating how much we’ve set aside for retirement.
The pensions dashboard is meant to help with all of this, but despite being talked about since 2014, and announced in 2016, it’s still a fair way down the track.
The problem is clear. Ever since we started being automatically enrolled into workplace pensions, more of us have been building up an increasing number of pension pots.
Research from Hargreaves Lansdown in April showed that one in 10 of us have five or more different pensions to keep an eye on, and there’s a serious risk that once we’re juggling so many, we forget about some of the smaller ones.
Even if we’re on top of this, most people lose track of how much they have saved. The same survey showed that only around two in five people had a good idea of how much all their pensions were worth — falling to around one in three among younger people.
The pensions dashboard is designed to solve these problems, bringing all your pension information into one place.
You don’t have to remember every tiny pension scheme, because everyone you have a pension with will automatically feed into the dashboard.
It will provide clear information about how much each pot is worth, as well as the state pension. The idea is for it to be a completely straightforward place to check exactly where you stand.
It’s a great idea, because if people are going to make informed holistic decisions about their retirement, they need a complete picture. If this is provided online, in one place, without a fuss, people are far more likely to engage with it. It’s not a magic bullet. People still need to be given the guidance they need in order to actually make those decisions, but it’s a vital part of the puzzle.
So the question is: when will we actually get this dashboard? It was originally planned for 2019, and has been delayed until next year.
The delays have been frustrating, but they’re also understandable. This was a massive technology project involving every organisation in a large industry. Some don’t have the data in a format that easily slots into the technology, and some are lacking some data altogether.
There have also been a number of consultations, the most recent of which was launched in June 2022, and looks into specific details around how the launch will be handled, and how some of the organisations involved will share information.
Part of the agreement is that the government has to be happy that the system is ready to go, and at that point it will give 90 days notice of the launch. It means the delay to 2023 may not be the last.
And while anyone with scant knowledge of their pensions and no idea how much they’ve saved for retirement will be keen to have these problems solved sooner rather than later, the key will be that when it’s launched, it contains enough information to give people a complete picture of their finances.
The whole point of the dashboard is to bring everything together in one place in order to make sensible and informed decisions, so "almost there" is not close enough.