The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has issued a written ministerial statement providing an update on the publication of connection guidance which includes the new staging timeline for connecting to pensions dashboards.

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Regulations, standards and testing

Dashboards available point (DAP)

Date for the dashboards available point

The date of the dashboards available point has not been set yet. Regulations require the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to give 6 months’ notice to industry before the dashboards available point.

Before the dashboards available point, the regulations restrict availability of dashboards only to invited individuals ‘to support testing or service improvements’.

Who decides the dashboards available point

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions will set the dashboards available point when they are satisfied that the dashboards ecosystem is ready to support widespread use by the general public. This will be done in consultation with the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), The Pensions Regulator (TPR) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Considerations for the DAP date

The Government will consider the following areas in their decision:

  • sufficient coverage: dashboards should enable most users to find information about all of their pensions
  • the dashboards service must work effectively: the digital architecture must have been rigorously tested and be able to support large numbers of users
  • safety and security: users must be confident that the service they are using is safe and secure
  • user experience: users must have a positive and consistent experience across all pensions dashboards

Separate dates for the connection deadline and dashboards available point

The connection deadline and dashboards available point dates are different. If pension providers and schemes connect in line with the DWP staged timetable then the DAP could come before the connection deadline.

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Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) guidance

DWP staged timetable guidance

The DWP guidance sets out the staged timetable

DWP has, in collaboration with partners (the Pensions Dashboards Programme (PDP), TPR and FCA), consulted on and engaged extensively with industry on the principles underpinning a staged approach to connection. This includes PDP’s 2021 staging call for input and the Government’s consultations on the Pensions Dashboards Regulations 2022.

DWP encourages trustees or managers and pension providers to follow the dates in the guidance, unless there are exceptional circumstances which prevent them from doing so, and demonstrate “having regard to the guidance”. This will ensure all pension providers and schemes are connected to the ecosystem by the legal deadline and will enable the pensions industry to onboard in a stable and staggered manner.

Prioritisation for larger providers and schemes

The connection timetable in the guidance prioritises schemes and providers with the largest number of members. This approach, if followed by industry, will ensure a sufficient proportion of pensions will be available to ‘find’ and ‘view’ on pensions dashboards as early as possible.

PDP expects to facilitate connection in line with the ‘connect by’ dates in the DWP guidance, ahead of the 31 October 2026 connection deadline in legislation.

Who the DWP staged timetable guidance is for

The guidance is applicable to trustees or managers of relevant occupational pension schemes (schemes with 100 or more members) and providers of personal and stakeholder pensions.

Advisers, administrators, and integrated service providers (ISPs) may also benefit from familiarising themselves with the guidance. Potential providers of dashboards may also find the guidance useful.

What “having regard to the DWP staged timetable guidance” means

Trustees or managers and pension providers must consider the guidance when making decisions or taking actions in relation to preparing to connect to dashboards.

They will need to be able to demonstrate, upon request, how they have had regard to the guidance. Failure to do so may result in enforcement action by the relevant regulator.

Benefits of following the DWP staged timetable guidance

It is in the best interests of consumers that dashboards are made available as quickly as possible, and this can be achieved if schemes follow the guidance. The guidance will set out when pension providers and schemes are expected to connect.

DWP guidance on deferred connection

This is a complex programme involving the connection of more than 3,000 pension providers and schemes. To ensure compliance with the deadline in legislation, schemes should plan to connected according to the staging profile which will be set out in guidance. Following this guidance could help dashboards to launch to the public sooner than the connection deadline.

DWP has issued guidance for trustees or managers of occupational pension schemes that meet the criteria set out in regulation 17 of the 2022 Regulations that may wish to apply to defer the connection deadline of 31 October 2026.

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The Pensions Regulator (TPR) guidance

Stay up to date with The Pensions Regulator developments.

TPR guidance for occupation pension schemes

TPR have set out guidance for occupational pension schemes to ensure they are already thinking about the issues that schemes will have to deal with when connecting to dashboards.

TPR have developed a preparation checklist to ensure pension schemes are on track to meet their dashboard duties. Trustees and administrators are encouraged to work together and use the checklist to see which actions they should already be working on.

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The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) rules and frameworks

Stay up to date with the Financial Conduct Authority Regulation Round-up.

FCA dashboard rules

The FCA made the rules requiring personal and stakeholder pension providers to connect to the ecosystem.

The FCA have amended these rules to include the new 31 October 2026 connection deadline, in line with DWP’s regulations.

FCA proposed regulatory framework for pensions dashboard service firms

The FCA will also be responsible for regulating and authorising firms that operate and make pensions dashboard services available. They will introduce a regulatory framework to ensure the risk for potential for consumer harm is reduced and dashboards deliver consumer benefits.

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Standards from PDP

PDP will continue to provide regular updates via newsletters, their website, explainer videos, press, webinars and more. Sign up for PDP’s newsletter.

What are the standards?

  • data standards are the data formatting requirements pension providers and schemes must follow when returning pensions data.
  • design standards are the requirements for a qualifying pensions dashboard service on the presentation of pensions data on dashboards.
  • reporting standards describes the data required from pension providers, schemes and qualifying pensions dashboard services (QPDS) to enable the monitoring of the effectiveness and health of the ecosystem.
  • technical standards (including API standards) are the requirements for how pension providers, schemes and QPDS interface with the central digital architecture and with each other. 
  • code of connection covers the required security, service and operational standards that apply when connecting to the ecosystem.

Legislation giving MaPS authority to set the standards for dashboards

The Pension Schemes Act 2021 and the Pensions Dashboards Regulations give authority to the Pensions Dashboards Programme (PDP), as part of the Money and Pensions Service, to set standards relating to the practical operation of pensions dashboards services and the digital infrastructure needed to support them.

The standards will provide the rules and controls that will facilitate the ongoing connection to the pensions dashboards ecosystem.

Find the latest versions of standards published by PDP.

How updated regulations affect standards

The current drafts of the standards are available on the PDP website. Some of the standards require further revisions to reflect industry feedback and technical developments.

PDP will provide a further update when possible to outline engagement with industry on these changes. Once finalised these documents will require DWP Secretary of State’s approval. PDP recognises the need to allow industry time to prepare for connection, and will factor this in to plans for publication of the approved standards.

Which version of standards to work to

Find the latest version of each standard will be available, including a changelog documenting modifications for each version. Standards will be published as drafts until Secretary of State approval.

Changes to standards

PDP will be responsible for approving minor technical changes to the standards and the Secretary of State will be responsible for approving all other changes. The approach to the governance of standards outlines how changes can be made and how they are categorised as minor or major. Minor changes are those changes that have minimal impact on most pension providers, schemes and qualifying pensions dashboard services. All other changes will be major, which will be consulted on.

Where possible, there will be at least 12 months’ notice for major changes and 6 months for minor changes. Updates will be applied annually for major changes in October and bi-annually for minor changes in April and October.

More frequent updates may be applied in an emergency. This is something urgently required to maintain the security or integrity of the ecosystem. PDP will provide as much notice as possible.

PDP will publish changes in a changelog at the bottom of each standards webpage.

Design standards user research

User research will inform design standards which will help shape the look and feel of dashboards.

The Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) user research will also be used to inform the design and build of the MoneyHelper dashboard. Further information will be provided on what this will look like closer to the first connection date in guidance.

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Consumer protection

Find further information on consumer protection.

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Testing for pension providers, schemes and integrated service providers (ISPs)

Testing for connection

Those building a direct route to connection will need to test their builds before connecting to the dashboards ecosystem. The draft code of connection, which is subject to change, sets out how pension providers and schemes, and dashboard providers, connect to the ecosystem and what they need to do to remain connected.

Testing includes conformance and compliance testing, an IT Health Check, and any other testing required to ensure participants meet the required standards to connect.

When schemes and providers can test with real data

PDP expect testing will start when schemes begin to connect as part of wider industry staging. This is subject to further planning with industry.

Providers and schemes should be working with their ISPs or administrators to prepare data for connection which will allow for effective user testing.

PDP will produce connection and testing materials to support pension providers and schemes in their connection journeys. These will be available following the connection windows outlined in the Department for Work and Pensions’ guidance on connection, before real data testing begins.

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If you can’t find what you’re looking for you can log your query, provide feedback, or raise a concern through our Jira portal. PDP will address your issue and update our support pages accordingly.

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