Today, the Pensions Minister has announced a new staging approach for all schemes connecting to the Pensions Dashboards. This new approach gives pension schemes greater flexibility, with the only imperative being that they must connect to the Pensions Dashboards Programme ecosystem by 31 October 2026. We believe this decision will have a negative impact on the programme’s endeavours, posing a critical risk to the timely success of dashboards.
The new staging approach appears to provide schemes with significant extra time to prepare for connection. However, removing the urgency risks schemes independently creating an industry-wide bottleneck as the deadline approaches, as well as reducing the opportunity to gain valuable insight from earlier connecting cohorts. This, in turn, complicates the planning and testing of the already complex, multi-faceted, brand-new technology necessary to connect to the Pensions Dashboards. Wider planning also needs to be considered for scheme-specific complexities such as setting matching criteria and how to respond to value data requests. These complications could result in the de-prioritisation of dashboards, further delays and further costs for the industry.
From what we have already seen, the industry’s reaction to today’s Pensions Dashboards announcement from the Minister is as expected – Dashboards are a crucial step towards individuals engaging with one of their biggest assets, and any risk to their success should be avoided. This mirrors the feedback we have received from our clients over the past month when discussing how dashboards fit into their overall priorities.
As some of the over 3,000 schemes needing to connect will de-prioritise Dashboards relative to other pressing projects, there is now clearly a risk of a capacity crunch further down the line for those who delay preparation. Industry body PASA has already stated that connection to the ecosystem is only 5% of the preparation required and that the other 95% of the work can be completed now. We also know that much of the work that can start now overlaps heavily with data supporting day-to-day administration and other data projects, such as GMP equalisation. By creating new processes to tackle all types of data work, wider benefits can be brought to schemes.
The reset of Dashboards means many schemes are planning for multiple regulatory and scheme-based changes, with the timelines to complete these projects heavily overlapping. To maintain momentum in all projects, schemes need to assess what data work will advance all or most of the projects they need to tackle.
Maurice Titley, Chief Innovation Officer at ITM, said:
“Getting thousands of schemes ready for connection over the next couple of years will be a huge challenge for the industry. Being ‘ready to connect’ involves having the required data, setting up processes to keep that data up to date, and testing each scheme on the ISP technology (or equivalent) that will handle requests received from dashboards.
This work needs to be planned in an orderly manner and spread across the remaining period between now and the final connection deadline – a deadline which is really not that far away. This will mean that schemes are in the best possible position when the forthcoming ‘connection guidance’ is published by MaPS, which is expected later this year.”
Andrew Lowe, Executive Pensions Consultant at ITM, said
“PASA’s guidance will almost certainly offer suggestions that not only improve a scheme dashboards position but will also have a beneficial impact on other pension projects, such as de-risking or McCloud. If schemes need help assessing what data processes they should prioritise, a good place to start would be getting in touch with our expert team.”