Proposals to give millions of people online access to their pension information have been unveiled by the government.
New free, user-friendly "pensions dashboards" would allow people to access the information from their pension schemes in one place for the first time. The online tools are intended to help people make informed choices and to better plan for retirement.
The dashboards will be developed by the pension industry and it is expected that the first pensions dashboard will go live in 2019, with more dashboards to be introduced in the following years.
However, there are concerns that information about the state pension will not be included in these dashboards. The government says it will work with the pensions industry to include state pension information "at some stage".
According to the government, the tools will:
- Give people accurate, easy to understand, secure information;
- Show people clearly how much they have in their pension pots and what they can expect to have to live on in retirement;
- Put people in control of when and how they check their data and who has access to it;
- Help people to find 'lost' pension pots.
"Plain pensions information at the touch of a screen will ensure better-informed, more engaged savers and help many more people to plan effectively for retirement," said Guy Opperman, minister for pensions and financial inclusion.
"Bringing pensions information into the digital age has the potential to revolutionise the way we all think about and plan for later life," he said. "People, young and old, should have all the help they need to get ready for retirement and maximise their pension incomes and, working with industry, we will ensure they do. Now the government is seeking views about what the new services will look like and how they will work. Consumer protection and safeguarding data will be top priorities."
Commenting on the announcement, Jenni Allen, managing director at Which? Money, said: "We welcome today's steps towards achieving what could be a game-changing improvement to the way people manage their pensions … It's crucial that all schemes are included, alongside the state pension, so that savers are able to make informed decisions about their retirement savings and plan their lives accordingly."
However, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has raised concerns about the dashboards and their suitability for self-employed workers. Mike Cherry, FSB national chairman, said: "The DWP's decision to hand responsibility for delivering pensions dashboards to industry will have alarm bells ringing among the self-employed.
"Fewer than one in three sole traders currently save into a private pension. The danger is - without government pulling out all the stops to deliver these dashboards - the incredibly drawn out process of making them a reality will yield little impact. We need to see the new DWP secretary Amber Rudd inject some leadership and drive into this long-delayed initiative."
Cherry also said that pensions dashboards could do more to encourage sole traders to build up savings. "The rollout of pensions dashboards should be coupled with proactive saving prompts from the government," he said. "Self-assessment tax return reminders could, for example, lay the foundations for nudges which encourage small business owners to save more for the future."