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Britain to Fund Sweeping Pension Project

Eighty million pension plans in the U.K. will be brought together in a single dashboard to help Britons plan for retirement.

  • Joe McGrath

The U.K. government plans to fund a radical technology project that allows individuals to see all their pension schemes in one place.

In an announcement Thursday at the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association’s annual conference, U.K. Pensions Minister Guy Opperman said the “revolutionary” project led by the Department for Work and Pensions will store about 80 million retirement plans in one place.

The government plans to create a dashboard showing all the investment plans that individuals have accumulated through their employers along with their state pension entitlement. Opperman said he would provide a full update on the project in the spring of 2018. If successful, the U.K. will follow Australia, Sweden and the Netherlands in offering savers a consolidated overview of their pension investments.

“The DWP is going to lead this work in government, with support from colleagues in Treasury, the industry and others,” Opperman said at the conference. “We will be considering all aspects of timing, data, costs and regulation.”

While the pension minister recognized it will be tricky to get all asset managers and pensions to agree on a standard program, he said there should be “absolutely no doubt that the dashboard will happen.” A well-designed pensions dashboard will help engage consumers seeking to meet their retirement savings goals, according to the pensions minister.

“The needs of the consumers must be at the heart of any design,” Opperman said. “We must ensure that consumer interests are properly safe-guarded.”

A prototype of the U.K. dashboard was unveiled earlier this year after work was undertaken by the Association of British Insurers. While the project announced Thursday has the potential to reconnect millions of people with their pension savings, more work is needed, according to a statement Thursday from Graham Vidler, director of external affairs at the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association.

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“The dashboard could have a revolutionary effect on the way people engage with pensions, but it needs regulation and strong governance underpinning it,” Vidler said, adding that Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association research found that four out of five people felt they would be helped by a national retirement income target.

“We believe the combination of a nationally recognised target and digital infrastructure that allows consumers to compare their savings to that target would be a powerful tool for raising the level of retirement income,” Vidler said in the statement.