With less than three years to the final dashboards connection date, administrators need to put in place detailed plans now to ensure schemes are getting ready to meet their duties. PASA is supporting this through a series of outputs starting in December defining what it means for a scheme to be ‘connection ready’, and showing what a typical single scheme plan could look like. The first release in this new series is Connection Ready Guidance which is available today alongside a ‘Call to Action’ for schemes and providers outlining the top five actions schemes need to act on now with regard to dashboards connection readiness.
The forthcoming connection guidance dates will inform the final point at which schemes are expected to ‘plug in’ to the dashboards ecosystem. But they don’t help schemes know when they need to start their preparations or how long they will take. PASA’s new materials fill this gap so schemes and administrators can plan to become ‘connection ready’ before it’s too late.
This will be followed by further supporting materials including practical tips for certain connection ready activities, checklists of key actions and outlines of connection ready decisions which must be made at a scheme level.
Kim Gubler, PASA Chair, commented: “In the absence of staging deadlines, many have deprioritized their dashboards delivery. However, there are thousands of schemes which must consider preparation and delivery of data, calculations and administrative processes as well as the technology to connect to dashboards’ Central Digital Architecture. With a finite set of resources, the industry as a whole can’t continue to delay this activity if universal connection by 31 October 2026 is to be achieved. We must do a better job of articulating the challenge and working with schemes to generate and deliver on realistic plans for being connection ready.
This new Guidance is designed to show the practical activities schemes and providers need to complete. PASA worked with DWP, MaPS and regulators to agree how this definition can best be used to support schemes in monitoring and recording their progress to ensure it’s complementary to guidance and standards which already exist. The Guidance includes a draft plan for a single scheme to achieve connection readiness.”
Maurice Titley Director at ITM, PASA Expert Partners for dashboards, said: “The simple scheme plan included in the Guidance demonstrates it may take 18 months elapsed time (or even longer) to achieve all of the elements of becoming connection ready for one scheme in isolation.
Very few schemes will have the luxury of suppliers who can focus resources solely on their delivery and industry wide capacity in key areas such as data, IT and administration practice will inevitably be a constraint. Trustees and scheme managers need to agree their specific delivery plans with their providers as soon as possible.”
Andrew Lowe, Executive Pensions Consultant at ITM, PASA Expert Partners for dashboards, said: “Our Connection Ready Guidance aims to help schemes and providers at a practical delivery level. We understand the challenges and the nuance underlying some of the connection ready activity and will aim to provide support across all elements in translating regulation and dashboards standards into pragmatic and usable guidance material.”
Lucy Stone, Dashboards Lead at The Pensions Regulator, said: “The importance of preparation cannot be overstated. We welcome this Guidance which gives practical suggestions on how administrators can support trustees in getting ready for dashboards. We urge trustees to work with administrators and others to develop a practical delivery plan and prepare in line with our checklist without delay.’
The new PASA Connection Ready Guidance for dashboards, can be found here.
As the clock continues to tick on the time to prepare for connection to dashboards, PASA looks to support providers and schemes by explaining what preparation is required and why it must start now.
Following the Pensions Dashboards Programme (PDP) reset, announced on 2 March 2023, DWP said it will remove from law the staged deadlines by which providers and schemes of different types were required to connect to the MaPS/PDP central digital architecture (CDA), and will instead replace them with a single final connection date of 31 October 2026, and then collaborate with industry to create a new staging timetable in guidance.
With this guidance staging timetable likely to be published in Spring 2024, it’s essential preparation work continues. The launch of PASA’s Connection Ready Guidance aims to provide support and generate momentum for the industry. PASA’s key role continues to be helping the industry create and maintain momentum in its preparations for pensions dashboards.
What is ‘Connection Ready’?
In its response to DWP’s informal consultation, PASA suggested splitting getting ready to connect (which is 95% of the work schemes need to do) from actual connection to the MaPS/PDP CDA. To support this, PASA have created a detailed definition of what it means to be ‘connection ready’.
The PASA Connection Ready Guidance includes 5 main pillars which are
- Value Data
Each of these pillars has key activities within them which underpin being connection ready. The Guidance outlines what these are, how to achieve them, why they’re important and how to evidence appropriate activity has been undertaken.
All schemes will have their unique characteristics, but the draft plan aims to identify the key dependencies between different connection ready activities and across the connection ready pillars. PASA members’ expertise and knowledge will also be essential in supporting service providers to create delivery plans for their schemes, and likewise in supporting schemes to understand what these plans look like from the perspective of a typical service provider.
With so many schemes having to go through similar activities in the next three years, there will inevitably some efficiencies to be gained for some providers. However, many connection ready activities cannot be delivered concurrently for multiple clients and/or are subject to key dependencies that can create delays.
Combined with the finite skilled resource required, it means not every scheme can become connection ready within the same timeframe. Although we are expecting staging guidance dates shortly from DWP which will promote action from schemes, it’s key industry ramps up delivery plans now.
Andrew Lowe, Executive Pensions Consultant at ITM, PASA Experts for dashboards, said: “Providers can’t deliver dashboards for all schemes at the same time. Even with staging Guidance dates, it’s inevitable some schemes will push up against the 31 October 2026 deadline. While this may be for good reasons, it creates a real danger a significant proportion of schemes won’t be ready by this date – purely because they haven’t taken action now and providers run out of capacity later.”