Lots of people have spoken to me about how worried they are about the “Pensions Dashboard”. This scheme was meant to be a Government run website that would let you access all of your pension data in one place. Before Parliament went into recess the Department for Work and Pensions Minister Esther McVey gave her statement on the future of the scheme.
She has stated that the scheme will proceed but only if it is led by the private sector rather than the Government. I agree with the Labour Pensions Spokesperson Jack Dromey MP who described this decision as a “cop-out”. McVey has shown that we’ve won the argument on the dashboard in principle as she admitted that it offered a “great opportunity to give people straightforward access to their pension information in a clear and simple format – bringing together an individual’s savings in a single place online.”
But blinded by their belief that private is always best the Tories are putting the whole project in danger by ducking their responsibility to lead the way. Pensions providers have warned that without access to the Government’s state pension data and legislation to compel pension companies to take part the whole project risks being “half baked”.
The Governments response leaves only two options open. Either we get a half formed pensions dashboard that doesn’t include your state pension, or we acquiesce to the biggest ever transfer of personal data from Government to a private company. Both of these options are worse than the secure and comprehensive state run dashboard we could have had if the Government had properly followed through.
I am particularly concerned about the prospect of placing so much personal data from so many people in private hands. As a member of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee I took first hand evidence from people involved in the Facebook data scandal. Their testimony showed how poor private companies can be at protecting data and how once data is leaked it’s almost impossible to stop that data being sold on over and over again.
I and the rest of the Labour Party strongly believe that the Government should have the courage of its convictions. We believe in doing what works and it’s clear that for delivering a large scale, free at the point of use service that requires compelling multiple companies to pool data the Government is best placed to deliver. I would like to reassure you that I will continue to push for the Government to abandon its half-measure and properly back the Pensions Dashboard.
You can access the Governments full written statement to Parliament at the address below.
You can see the Labour Party’s reply at the address below.