Chris Curry Published by: Chris Curry  

We’re still early enough in January for me to wish you a Happy New Year and welcome to 2021. It’s not perhaps been quite the start that many of us hoped for, with a third lockdown during the dark days of winter. However, there is reason for optimism within the Pensions Dashboards Programme (PDP) as we continue to make progress.

As 2020 proved, while we may have expectations and plans for what a year will bring, none of us quite knows what is around the corner. Looking back to January last year, it’s clear that, despite everything, we’ve come a long way. The programme has doubled in size as we’ve moved beyond the initial planning phase. We’ve built a strong team, with a range of skills and expertise, who support each other admirably to overcome the continued challenges we face.

We’ve undertaken significant research and investigation, with input from our working groups, pension providers and schemes, the regulators and our colleagues at the Department for Work and Pensions. Our research is the bedrock of the PDP, providing a solid evidence base for our decisions around data standards, procurement and user needs.

We developed the overarching plan of activity for the programme and published a timeline, as well as biannual reports on progress, to ensure that we are clear and transparent about our programme activity. Our activity is dependent on collaboration with other organisations and we’ve continued our combined efforts to bring pensions dashboards into being.

My team and I have been involved in a large number of events and engagements, to spread the word about the programme itself and explain what it is, what it does and what it does not do to colleagues across the pensions industry. If you need a refresher, this video provides a great introduction to the pensions dashboards ecosystem.

Looking forward across 2021

Significant milestones we are looking forward to in the year ahead include the Pensions Schemes Bill passing into law. The Bill will set the high-level legislative framework to compel pensions providers and schemes to make individuals’ data available on dashboards. It is making its way through parliament, with some progress in evidence just before Christmas leading us to hope that we are nearly there with this important piece of legislation.

We will be starting our procurement this year for the major features of digital infrastructure. This is an exciting moment for the programme as we begin the selection process of a delivery partner to build the pensions dashboards ecosystem itself. We are procuring solutions for the consent and authorisation service, where dashboard users will provide their permission to start the search activity and the pension finder service itself, which will communicate with pension providers and schemes to locate users pensions.

In a separate process, we are sourcing the framework for digital identity verification, working with stakeholders to inform our approach to selecting which system we will use to ensure dashboard users are who they say they are.

Of course we will continue with our research workstreams too. We’ve recently appointed IPSOS Mori to carry out a substantial programme of research and already have work underway to further define user needs and expectations around pensions dashboards. We’re looking forward to using the results to further shape our programme.

Developing our onboarding strategy is another key focus for this year. With our Head of Onboarding, Paul Noone, now in role, we will work with pension providers and schemes to provide more detail on staging dates later in the year. Following the publication of our data standards guide in December, we’re keen to hear from stakeholders about areas where individuals, schemes and providers require further guidance and support. You can email us about this at [email protected].  

We’re always happy to talk about our work or hear about work happening within the industry relating to dashboards, so if you have an industry event or meeting that you would like one of our programme representatives to attend, then you can contact us via the website or email [email protected].

When you add in the business as usual of programme governance, reporting and further communications activity, plus work on consumer protection and the liability model, it’s clearly going to be another busy year for the PDP. And there will be brighter days ahead.