Pensions Dashboards – further consultation
The DWP has issued a further consultation on two elements of the draft Pensions Dashboards Regulations 2022, that were subject to a broader consultation earlier this year.
In this response
Consultation question 1. Do you agree that 90 days is a reasonable period between the DAP formally being announced, and the DAP itself?
It is difficult to give a view on whether 90 days is a reasonable period between the announcement and the actual DAP, as this will depend on what happens in the lead up to the announcement. One of the key concerns for schemes will be whether their third party providers (eg administrators and ISPs) will have sufficient resources at DAP to cope with processing find and view requests across all their clients and the anticipated increase or even surge in member enquiries arising from dashboards going live. It is unclear at this stage exactly how much extra work there will be from DAP and, therefore, how much extra resource will be required. Providers and schemes will need sufficient time to recruit and train any additional employees and this should be factored into timings.
The consultation states that the “government is committed to working transparently with MaPS and industry to provide updates on our plans for the DAP well in advance of th[e] formal notice”. However, it is not clear from this exactly how much notice the industry will be given ahead of the formal announcement, which makes it difficult to assess whether 90 days is appropriate. Moreover, this commitment is not included in the draft provision set out in Annex A (“Draft Provision”), giving rise to more uncertainty as to how and when the industry will be told “informally” of the DAP.
Assessing with the dashboard ecosystem is “ready”
Whilst the government acknowledges that the Secretary of State must be satisfied that the dashboard ecosystem is “ready to support the widespread use” of dashboards, the Draft Provision only goes as far as saying that in assessing this, the Secretary of State must:
- “consult” with MaPS, TPR and the FCA, and
- “have regard” to matters “such as security and conformance testing”.
Matters to “have regard” to
Although it is reassuring to see this requirement in legislation, the Draft Provision lacks the detail that would help the industry understand what the DWP sees as the criteria for the dashboard being “ready”. For example, we would strongly support including the PLSA’s criteria of matters to consider, namely:
- data matching accuracy, and
- user understanding.
This is partly to give the industry comfort that the DAP will only occur once the industry as a whole is ready, but also to ensure that the dashboard launch is a success. If user understanding is still limited, notwithstanding the ecosystem being ready, this could lead to individuals misinterpreting the data or misunderstanding the limitations of the data provided over dashboards, potentially leading to poor choices as a result..
We would also suggest the wording in the Draft Provision is changed from “such as” to “including”, to ensure that the matters listed are in fact considered by the Secretary of State.
Consultation or agreement?
We would also support a requirement for the Secretary of State to agree the DAP with MaPS, TPR and the FCA, rather than just having to consult with them. These bodies will be in a much better position to assess whether the dashboard system is ready to “go live” to the public, so their agreement to the DAP is of great importance to the project as a whole.
One of the concerns in the industry is that, no matter how much testing is done beforehand, the dashboard ecosystem and connecting schemes / providers will be unable to cope with the potentially huge number of “find” requests if there is a single DAP. We have seen suggestions that an alternative approach could be to do a series of DAPs according to age, eg starting with those age 60-65, then moving to 50-59 and so on (or starting with the youngest cohorts first). This would mean that the data for the individuals using the dashboard is complete, but there will be less individuals able to access the dashboard, minimising the risk of the system “crashing”, which in turn would risk the public’s confidence in the project from the outset.
Consultation question 2: Do you have any comments on the proposed powers to disclose information?