Pensions dashboard data standards published; Opperman urges providers to prepare data

Holly Roach reports

The Pensions Dashboard Programme (PDP) has published key data standards which will underpin the initial technology used to allow savers to view their pensions.

The programme – set up by the Money and Pensions Service (Maps) – is responsible for the design and implementation of the digital system to ensure the pensions dashboards work effectively.

The PDP has urged pension providers to get data ready for the dashboard, including finding the initial data needed so savers can access their chosen dashboard.

The data standards will include people’s personal details, pension arrangements, and estimated retirement income.

Providers will be required to ensure that the data they hold is consistent with the data standards, and must prepare data to ensure it is ready for connection to pensions dashboards when it is required and ensure the dashboards display a clear and accurate picture of an individual’s pension savings.

The provider must also supply the saver’s income data, which will provide the individual with an estimated retirement income and the date payable for each pension as well as the current value of a person’s pension pot if they have defined contribution (DC) pension(s).

UK state and private pensions, including in the public sector, will be included in the first iteration of pensions dashboards.

The publication of the data standards comes after the PDP published the long-awaited timeline for the pensions dashboards, which estimated dashboards could be available from 2023.

PDP principal Chris Curry said: “We have published these standards after robust collaboration with the pensions industry, regulators and government to better understand the potential data challenges that different types of providers might encounter, which has all been factored into potential solutions.

“We are committed to dashboards fulfilling their true potential, but we also need to begin at a realistic starting point, which is the find and view data requirements we’re setting out now. We know some challenges lie ahead when it comes to refining the data standards, but as the programme progresses we will incorporate further industry feedback.”

Pensions and financial inclusion minister Guy Opperman added: “Bringing information to savers at the touch of a screen will revolutionise how we engage with our pensions and plan for retirement. Getting data standards right is vital, to realise the full potential of pension dashboards. The publication of key data standards is therefore an important and welcome step.

“I’m encouraged by the progress to date and the continued collaboration driving it forward. I am ambitious for the future of dashboards, as a place where people can easily see what they can expect at retirement, and the value their current providers are giving them.

“My message to pension providers remains, get dashboard data ready.”

Pension administrator EQ Paymaster chief executive Duncan Watson said the data standards are a “wake-up call” for pension schemes.

“At a bare minimum, schemes need to make sure that all the pensions they are responsible for are automatically accessible, personal data items are wholly accurate and accrued pension entitlement value is available on every single record.

“These data standards should act as further warning that pension schemes need to change how they operate now in order to be dashboard-ready by 2023. Schemes should know enough now to already be discussing with their administrator how dashboards are going to fit into their data strategy while those with their heads still in the sand are likely to face a rude awakening down the line,” he said.

Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) director of policy and research Nigel Peaple said: “PLSA members have consistently told us that they require legal certainty and a set of clear, unambiguous data standards to plan and resource preparations for dashboards. With today’s publication by the PDP, we can see good progress towards meeting this essential industry requirement. That said, more work will be needed on detailing and specifying these standards over the next year.

“The data standards outlined in today’s publications seek to achieve the government’s commitment to deliver initial dashboards that offer ‘find and view’ functionality. Crucially, these standards will enable savers to understand their estimated retirement income (ERI) more easily than ever before, though some serious challenges remain to ensure that ERI values are consistent across defined benefit and DC entitlements.”

He continued: “While pension schemes can now start to prepare their data in earnest, it is essential that the PDP turns its focus to the development of a robust consumer protection framework over the course of 2021. Appropriate protections should be in place long before the first dashboard goes live to ensure that the data dashboards present and the functionality they offer do not result in consumer detriment, misselling or pension scams.”