NAO: Digital skills shortage delayed DWP's pensions dashboards programme

Capacity and capability issues, including a lack of digital skills and ineffective governance, have contributed to delays to government’s Pensions Dashboards Programme (PDP), according to a new National Audit Office (NAO) report.

NAO: Digital skills shortage caused delays in DWP's pensions dashboards programme

The PDP is one of the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP)’s flagship programmes and forms part of the Government Major Projects Portfolio. Its aim is enable people to view information about their private, workplace and state pensions online, securely and in one place.

In 2019, DWP delegated responsibility for delivering the PDP to one of its arm’s-length bodies, the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS). However, it did not have assurance at the outset that MaPS – which was formed in October 2018 – had the capacity and capability to deliver a major digital programme such as the PDP.

Between 2020 and mid-2022, DWP and MaPS made progress in delivering important elements of the pensions dashboards system. However, in December 2022, MaPS informed DWP that the PDP’s delivery timetable was no longer viable.

A subsequent review carried out by DWP in February 2023 found that multiple factors had contributed to the delivery problems, including a lack of skilled digital resources and ineffective programme governance. These factors had also been raised in earlier reviews of the programme carried out by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority.

Gareth Davies Head of NAOGareth Davies, Head of the NAO commented:

“Once completed, the PDP could benefit millions of people by providing a secure, comprehensive and online point of access for information about their pensions. However, delivery delays due to shortfalls in digital capacity and capability have pushed back the final deadline for pension providers and schemes to connect to the PDP by a year, with no date currently set for citizens to benefit. .”

The delay also led to a programme reset and a revised final connection deadline of 31 October 2026 – one year later than what was outlined in the original timetable.

DWP has yet to specify when pensions dashboards will become available to the estimated 16.3 million users who could stand to benefit. However, due to the delay, this is likely to be later than previously expected.

The estimated cost of the PDP has also increased by 23%, from £235 million in 2020 to £289 million in 2023, while the estimated gross benefits have fallen from £437 million in 2022 to £413 million in 2023.

Davies recommended that, "DWP and MaPS work closely to ensure the final stages of the PDP are delivered smoothly and the public can begin to have access to this important service". 

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