Pensions dashboards – Frequently asked questions

Most pension schemes will need to connect with the pensions dashboards, which will pull together all pension information to help savers plan their retirement. Because this will involve considerable effort, The Pensions Regulator (TPR) is urging trustees and scheme managers to start preparing now.

To help you get started, we’ve prepared this list of frequently asked questions. We’ll be adding to this as schemes move through the process. For now, we’re focusing on the scope and timetable.

 

Will my scheme need to connect to the pensions dashboards?

The Pension Schemes Act 2021 makes it mandatory for the following schemes to connect to pension dashboards:

    • Public service pension scheme of any size
    • Registered UK occupational pension scheme with 100 or more relevant members.

Small schemes – with fewer than 100 relevant members – are not currently in scope, although they may be included in future legislation. They can apply on a voluntary basis.

What is a relevant member?

A relevant member is an active or deferred member as at the scheme year ending in the year 1 April 2023 – 31 March 2024. This will usually be in line with the members listed in the scheme return submitted to The Pensions Regulator by the end of 31 March 2024. For hybrid schemes, the total number of relevant members should include both Defined Benefit (DB) and Defined Contribution (DC) sections.

Pensioners, surviving spouses and non-UK based payments are not in scope.

What are the key dates schemes need to plan for?

All schemes with over 100 relevant members will have to connect by 31 October 2026. If your scheme has less than 100 relevant members – but your number of active and deferred members increases to 100 by 1 April 2024 – there are some transitionary arrangements involved, and you have a slightly longer time to connect.

What happened to the timetable for connecting to the pensions dashboards?

The Pensions Dashboards Programme (PDP) team originally published a timetable, with staging and connection dates for schemes, according to their scheme type and size.

The PDP team has now withdrawn that prescribed timetable, and a new guide timetable will be issued.

The move away from a detailed and prescribed timetable is intended to give schemes more flexibility in their migration to the pensions dashboards.

The PDP team is expected to provide more detailed guidance on when schemes should move to the pensions dashboards. We’re expecting small but not significant changes to the original timetable.

Although this revised timetable will be guidance only and not enforceable, we strongly encourage schemes to work to the dates. Otherwise, there’s a real risk that too many schemes will leave it to the last minute, putting a huge resourcing strain on a number of parties involved in the set-up process, e.g. the PDP team, pension administrators, administration software providers and integrated service providers (ISPs).

For some schemes – such as those in the middle of a buy-out process – the flexibility will be genuinely valuable. But we believe that most schemes should work towards their guidance staging dates where possible.

Besides the timetable changes, can we expect other changes to the pensions dashboards?

There may be some changes to the data standards schemes need to comply with. With no changes announced yet, First Actuarial will advise clients on specific data requirements likely to change in order to minimise wasted effort.

What if my scheme is in PPF assessment?

Schemes in PPF assessment before the connection deadline only need to connect if the scheme does not enter the PPF (either by the connection deadline, or within six months of the end of the assessment period if later). This only applies where the whole scheme is in the PPF assessment. If only a section of your scheme is in assessment, your connection duties still apply.

What if my scheme is in the process of wind-up?

Schemes in the process of winding up will need to connect to the system, but do not have to provide member benefits data or value data to members (although they can do so voluntarily).

How is First Actuarial preparing for the pensions dashboards?

Behind the schemes, First Actuarial has been deeply involved in the PDP.

First Actuarial’s Claire Fuller is a member of the data working group of PASA (Pensions Administration Standards Association). As part of this group, Claire has advised the PDP team on:

    • Dashboard data issues
    • The challenges of getting schemes ready
    • The scheme member experience of the pensions dashboards.

First Actuarial has already run webinars on the pensions dashboards, and will continue to do so as more information becomes available.

Claire Fuller also sits on the PDP connection forum, which currently meets on a monthly basis. She also attends bimonthly meetings with the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) and the PDP team to represent our client base as the changes develop. This gives First Actuarial early exposure to pensions dashboard developments. We will be communicating that information to clients in a timely fashion and working with them to plan ahead.

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