Pension experts have reacted angrily to a report that the long-awaited pensions dashboard could be scrapped.
The Times has reported that welfare secretary Esther McVey may ditch the online service the government promised to introduce more than two years ago.
The pension dashboard is being created to help workers track their pensions savings and to help protect them from fraud.
It was announced by former Chancellor George Osborne and has been widely welcomed by the pensions industry and consumer pensions commentators.
The Times reports that Ms McVey “has moved to kill off the service”, on which the government has made no further progress since a consultation finished in March.
Kate Smith, head of pensions at Aegon, says: “The pension industry stands ready to go ahead with the dashboard and constant delays and procrastination have been unhelpful in the extreme.”
Commentators say that with auto-enrolment now in full swing and more people saving for retirement than ever before, the introduction of the pension dashboard service is crucial.
Recent research has found that more than one in five savers has lost track of a pension pot, because they have lost the paperwork, failed to tell their scheme when they have changed address or just forgotten about it.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) estimates some 50 million pension pots will be lost by 2050 without an official online service to help workers keep track of them.
Ms Smith adds: “Ditching the dashboard at this point makes very little sense and will, ultimately, make people’s retirement planning harder. Having a single source of pensions data that tells people what they can expect from both the state and their private pensions should significantly boost people’s engagement and lead to better decision making.”
Elliott Silk, head of commercial at wealth management firm Sanlam UK, says: “It crucial we continue with the launch of the pensions dashboard, particularly as people change jobs, which they do evermore frequently in today’s world. Even if an employee maintains details of their existing pensions, they can be difficult to track due to consolidation within the pensions industry.”
Andy Tarrant, head of policy at master trust The People’s Pension, agrees, adding: “It’s astonishing that an initiative aimed at helping millions of people to live comfortably in retirement, could be seen as a distraction by government.
“More than seven in 10 people have told The People’s Pension that they want to be able to see all of their pensions in one place. The dashboard has real potential to revolutionise retirement planning for millions of people across the UK and we urge the government not to U-turn on their previously strong support for the initiative.”
Plans to scrap the service have not been confirmed, while the DWP has said that it will not be commenting on The Times report.
This article was first written for our sister magazine Money Observer.