What is the pensions dashboard?

Touted as a game-changer in how we manage our savings, the pensions dashboard initiative has been plagued by delays. Here’s what you need to know.

Two people looking at investments on an iPad.
(Image credit: Getty Images - miniseries)

You might have heard of the pensions dashboard – a much-delayed government project that aims to help you keep track of your retirement savings. 

The programme has been in the works since 2016, and should help savers navigate a complex pensions landscape. 

The dashboard promises to bring all your various pension pots together into one place, allowing you to see exactly how much you have in each, making it easier to plan for retirement.

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However, it will arrive one year later than planned, due to "a lack of skilled resources and ineffective programme governance", according to a damning report by the National Audit Office (NAO) this week.

The final bill for the project is also expected to be an eye-watering £289 million.

Rachel Vahey, head of public policy at the investment platform AJ Bell, comments: “With such a high price tag, it is essential the pensions dashboards are a success. Dashboards have the potential to empower pension savers, but they’ve been badly let down by a project that has, so far, over-promised and under-delivered."

The dashboard programme was launched to address the issue of small pension pots. You may have accumulated a number of defined contribution pension pots over your working life, but how many are you aware of? And do you have all the paperwork needed to access them? 

Data suggests that the scheme is desperately needed, with misplaced pension pots becoming a bigger problem as we shift towards a world where the average person changes jobs several times during their career. 

As well as working on the pensions dashboard, the government is also talking about introducing “pot for life” reforms to help tackle the issue – something chancellor Jeremy Hunt highlighted in his Spring Budget on 6 March. 

Today, more than one in five workers believe they have lost a pension pot – which means there’s an estimated £50 billion in lost pension savings. That’s according to analysis by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, carried out on behalf of PensionBee.

Here’s what you need to know about the pensions dashboard, including when it will finally launch.

What is included in the pensions dashboard?

The pensions dashboard is a digital service that, once up and running, will allow savers to see their pension information in one place, including information on the state pension

You will be able to search the records of all pension schemes to confirm whether or not you are a member. It will then allow you access to manage the pot. Not only will this help you track down any pension pots you may have forgotten about – it will also help you better understand the value of your pension. This means you will be better placed to make effective decisions about managing your money in later life.

The pensions dashboard programme is being developed by the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) and it will be hosted on the MoneyHelper website. Other private organisations will be able to develop their own versions too.

When will it launch?

The programme has been repeatedly delayed by technical problems and disagreements on how it should be run.  

Last summer, former pensions minister Laura Trott revealed the deadline for pension schemes to connect to the dashboard would be pushed back again to 31 October 2026. Prior to this, the plan was for schemes to start connecting to the dashboard from August 2023, with the dashboard being made available to the public in 2024. 

The latest developments were unveiled on 25 March, when the DWP published a more detailed timeline. This will require most schemes to connect to the dashboard prior to the 31 October 2026 deadline. These are the key dates:

  • August 2024: Organisations with a direct connection to the dashboard (including the DWP state pension) will start being integrated into the system.
  • 30 April - 30 November 2025: Most large pension schemes and providers will connect.
  • 31 January - 30 September 2026: Most medium pension schemes and providers will connect.

The DWP explains that, while the timetable isn’t mandatory, pension trustees, managers and providers are legally obliged to pay attention to the guidance. For a full breakdown of the dates by scheme type, you can refer to the government website

Aside from dates when pension providers have to "connect" to the dashboard, there is currently no actual date for when the dashboards will launch to members of the public.

Why do we need a pensions dashboard?

Around £50 billion is sitting in missing pots, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research, and simplifying the process of people accessing their pots could be a game-changer for savers.

But beyond giving you better access to your nest eggs, it is hoped the programme will boost engagement within the pensions space. 

“Given the historically low levels of pension engagement in the UK, ensuring its timely and effective implementation is essential in helping people understand their retirement finances more comprehensively”, says Lily Megson, policy director at My Pension Expert. 

According to research carried out by Standard Life last year, 75% of adults don’t know how much is in their pension pot. This figure rises to 79% for 55-64 year olds, and 81% for women, further contributing to the gender pension gap

The sad truth is that too many people aren’t developing a financial plan for their retirement until it is too late – and complexity is a major barrier. The pensions dashboard should go some way to tackling this challenge.

An estimated 16.3 million people will use pensions dashboards.

Will it be regulated?

Under current proposals, the pensions dashboard ecosystem will be made up of multiple dashboards developed by different organisations. These organisations will need to prove they have the expertise and technical know-how before becoming a Qualifying Pensions Dashboard Service (QPDS).

The Pensions Dashboards Programme is responsible for creating the digital architecture that will allow all other dashboards to work and QPDS will still need authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). 

Together, MaPS and the FCA will set the rules on how dashboards must operate and enforce them. MaPS will set the standards operators are expected to maintain, and will notify the FCA if anyone is caught falling short. The FCA can then use its powers to de-authorise the provider.

Why is the dashboard delayed?

Building the pensions dashboard is a huge operational project, involving a range of different IT systems and a large amount of data. This makes it complex – and the delays so far have largely been blamed on this complexity.

However, the NAO also pointed to "capacity and capability issues, including a lack of digital skills and ineffective governance", which have contributed to the delays.

It also said a "range of factors, including a rise in supplier costs and the delivery timetable being extended by two years, have increased the programme’s estimated cost by 23%". 

In a written statement shared on 25 March, Paul Maynard, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Work and Pensions, said the programme had made “significant progress on building and testing the system that will enable pensions dashboards to work”.

He also reiterated the government’s commitment to delivering the pensions dashboard “safely and securely to the public at the earliest opportunity”.

Ruth Emery
Contributing editor

Ruth is passionate about helping people feel more confident about their finances. She was previously editor of Times Money Mentor, and prior to that was deputy Money editor at The Sunday Times. 

A multi-award winning journalist, Ruth started her career on a pensions magazine at the FT Group, and has also worked at Money Observer and Money Advice Service. 

Outside of work, she is a mum to two young children, a magistrate and an NHS volunteer.

With contributions from