The demise of the Pensions Dashboard scheme has been exaggerated, after pensions minister Esther McVey told Parliament of its importance. But there are concerns about when and how the project will take place.

The predicted demise of the Pensions Dashboard hasn’t happened, well, not quite anyway. Last month we reported on noises from the government that suggested its sentiment towards a Pensions Dashboard had lessened – despite earlier in the year highlighting the “strong case” for its implementation.

The dashboard would enable consumers to quickly and easily view an aggregate position by collating details of any pensions they hold.

Work and pensions secretary has told Parliament that the government will “help facilitate” a dashboard, but one developed by industry. For many the statement was a qualified backing of the dashboard. Effectively there is a change of tack: the private sector would need to do the donkey work.

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) said it was “bitterly disappointed” that the government has “backed down” on its pledge to build the dashboard.

It cited its own report, ‘How to solve the pensions crisis’, which found 51% of the self-employed trust government websites as a source of guidance.

“With just 31% of the self-employed saving into a pension, the government must have a role in solving this crisis,” said IPSE director of policy Jonathan Lima-Matthews.

“On top of that, its reluctance to share information about the state pension – on which many people rely – will make it extremely difficult for the industry to produce a thorough product that will serve the needs of savers in the UK.

“IPSE sees the pensions dashboard as a crucial tool in tackling the self-employed pensions crisis.”

AJ Bell’s Laura Suter said the government’s position was “hardly a huge vote of confidence” for the initiative.

“It hasn’t walked away from the project completely but it has acknowledged the size and the complexity of the challenge and laid responsibility for delivery firmly at the door of the industry,” said Suter.

A feasibility study into the dashboard is expected from government imminently.

“A dashboard with full government backing will have more chance of success, so it will be intriguing to see the findings from its feasibility study when they are published soon,” Suter added.

Kevin Reed is one of the UK’s most senior accounting and finance journalists. He is a former editor of Accountancy Age and Financial Director, and writes regularly on corporate and professional services governance.

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