The dashboard prototype was delivered to Government in March
Responsibility for the pensions dashboard could soon pass from the Treasury to the Department for Work and Pensions, Money Marketing understands, in a move set to be welcomed by the industry.
While the DWP only says it is considering the next steps on the idea and would not confirm or deny any plans, parties close to the situation say such discussions are gathering pace.
As the dashboard moves from concept towards implementation, the DWP picking up the baton would make sense for many in the market.
Aberdeen Standard Investments head of retirement savings Gregg McClymont and Hargreaves Lansdown head of policy Tom McPhail both agree such a move would be beneficial.
McPhail says: “The Treasury has taken the lead on [the dashboard] to date, however the DWP is responsible for the Single Public Financial Guidance Body and taking the lead there. So anything to do with guidance seems to sit more naturally with the DWP.
“While the Treasury is primarily about the bigger picture activity and things happening at policy level, when you get down to the implementation and operational level, it would make sense for responsibility to pass to the DWP.”
Cicero executive chairman Iain Anderson says the timing of any planned handover will be critical.
He says: “The Treasury is principally dealing with Brexit at the moment and that is creating bandwidth issues.
“But there has been long-running debate over bringing more of pensions policy into a single place, which I expect is why these conversations are picking up pace.”
McPhail adds: “There have been tensions about the delivery of the dashboard and while the industry is doing what it can, ultimately it will need the Government to legislate on it and publicly articulate that it is getting behind it and establish the direction of travel.
“As soon as the Government shows its strong support and that it will become compulsory, then I think things will be able to move forward with more clarity.”
As well as timing, accountability and ownership are major hurdles the Treasury must overcome.
Aviva head of financial research John Lawson says the project is likely to be on the back-burner until after the political party conference seasons concludes.
He adds that since former economic secretary Simon Kirby, widely acknowledged as a driving force behind the dashboard initiative, lost his seat following the June election, no one at the Treasury has “grabbed the nettle”.
The pensions dashboard will need work from both the DWP and Treasury, he says.
“I imagine it will become clearer post-party conference season once the political picture is less muddled. The Treasury is still very keen on the dashboard and won’t be totally out of the picture.
“The DWP always had to be involved with regard to state pension data sitting on the dashboard and also as the area of guidance falls to them, so it was always going to be a joint effort.
“We are hopeful that both sides will re-engage strongly once the political picture becomes clearer.”
A DWP spokesperson says: “The Government is considering the next steps with regard to this policy after delivering the prototype for the technology and we will keep the industry informed on how it progresses.”