Following the latest statement from the pensions minister in which she announced a reset of the Pensions Dashboards Programme (PDP), many of those charged with delivering dashboard data for the programme may be wondering whether the substantial effort required to get the dashboards ready for launch can now be stood down. With the length of the delay not yet quantified, can we redirect our teams and let the dashboard effort come to a halt until the Pensions Minister confirms the new date?
In fact, the message is clear. Don’t put your efforts on hold. Instead, keep calm and carry on. The delay to the programme is expected to be measured in months, not years, and we will hopefully have an update before the parliamentary summer recess. What’s more, this delay will give all involved parties an opportunity to get everything ready for staging, as and when the revised deadlines are announced. This announcement is not the death knell for the dashboards programme, merely an opportunity to regroup and ensure that providers and administrators are ready to deliver when the time comes.
There are several, primarily data-based benefits to delaying the rollout process, as many industry members have suggested. If the programme had gone ahead as planned, it would have rapidly become clear that there were holes in pension scheme’s data. It is to the credit of the Department for Work and Pensions that they have realised this and redoubled their commitment to providing a functional service by giving providers and administrators more time to prepare. We need the necessary data from providers and administrators alike, and we need that data to be prepared and ready for staging. This entails going over existing data and checking accuracy, if all the member and pension value data is available, evaluating what holes there are that need filling, and the implications for the scheme matching rules.
The other fundamental advantage to delaying the launch of the PDP is that Integrated Service Providers (ISPs) and administrators are more likely to be operationally ready and able to provide a fully functional service to meet the connection requirements. In order to ensure that the service remains functional, providers will also need to finalise methods for value data collection and maintenance, to ensure that data is up to date and members can access accurate data. There is a whole swathe of processes that will be needed, from how to resolve ‘possible matches’ (where only some of the fund data matches the provider’s data), how reports will be provided to regulators, and how frequently data will be uploaded to ISPs. Each administrator will be at a different point in their preparations in this regard, but the extension will surely be beneficial for all involved.
Although there has been frustration at the lack of clarity on the revised staging dates for pension providers and administrators, or even the Dashboard Availability Point (DAP) the general consensus was that the decision to delay was the right one. It is critical that administrators and pension and technology providers continue to lay the groundwork for the PDP to launch successfully on the new dates.
This preparation comes in two strings: firstly, identify and resolve the issues and the gaps in your member data so the Dashboards can deliver what they are designed to do. Secondly, identify the operational processes that will be necessary for pension providers and administrators to support the day-to-day running of your Pensions Dashboards consumer/member engagement and regulatory requirements.
What we’re trying to say is, simply put, keep calm and carry on. The eventual outcome will be better for this delay. But only if we use this time wisely to address the process issues, solidify our data processes, and get ourselves ready, so that next time, we really can meet the new staging dates and ensure a successful public launch.