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Pensions dashboard deadline confirmed

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has published its pension dashboard guidance, revealing that the new deadline for pension firms to provide a connected service is due to fall on 31 October 2026.

First mooted in 2016, the pensions dashboard scheme seeks to provide a single touchpoint for people to find and interact with their state, employer and private pensions.

Read more: Pensions dashboards – a five-step checklist for employers

The new guidance, published in late March 2024, sets out a staged timetable for pension schemes to connect to the dashboard, with the largest providers joining first.

Kate Smith, head of pensions at pensions firm Aegon, told HR magazine: “As there are thousands of pension schemes which will need to connect to the pension dashboard ecosystem in a relatively short time, it’s important that schemes do stick to their connect-by dates, ensuring a smooth and orderly onboarding, avoiding chaos and a log-jam, and potentially losing their slot. 

“The Pension Regulator will be regularly in touch with schemes to ensure this happens.”

She added that the regulator has published its own dashboard guidance – also updated in March – which includes a tool for trustees, HR leaders and others to check their connect-by date.

Its guidance also confirms that employers may be asked to help their pension providers’ connection by improving the availability or quality of personal data they give providers.

Smith added: “It’s important that the contact details for the chair of trustees or nominated scheme contact are up to date on the Pension Regulator’s online service, called ‘Exchange’. 

“HR leaders can sign up to the regulator’s newsletter to be kept up to date on the guidance. They also may wish to speak to their pension advisers for additional support.”

Employers will likewise have to keep their staff updated with the changes, according to Marcus Read, director of financial education at merchant bank Close Brothers.

He told HR magazine: "Having line of sight of all of our pension plans, in theory, is a great addition to an individual’s retirement planning, but it will no doubt raise lots of questions from employees about what they are looking at, and whether everything is as it should be.

"With pension firms starting to connect up to the dashboard, one suggestion for HR and reward teams to consider is to speak to their pension provider, administrator or scheme manager as soon as possible, to ensure that everything is on track, and to find out what support they will offer.

"The dashboard could be a great way of engaging or re-engaging colleagues on the importance of saving for later life, so a defined and engaging comms strategy should be put in place to raise awareness of what is coming, and the benefits of what it will do for future planning."

Read more: Pot-for-life posed to solve UK's pensions problem

Providers are expected, rather than required, to connect by the deadline. This voluntary approach drew criticism when it was revealed last summer.

Nigel Peaple, director of policy and advocacy at the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Authority (PLSA), said: “Many in the pensions industry, including the PLSA, would have preferred the new staging timeline to be set out in regulation, as was previously the case, rather than only in guidance, as is now planned. 

“To make this new approach work, it will be necessary for the dashboards programme to work in a very open, transparent and collaborative way such that all parts of the government involved in the project, and all those involved from across the industry, can work together as one."