Pensions Dashboards (Prohibition of Indemnification) Bill Debate

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Department: Department for Work and Pensions

Pensions Dashboards (Prohibition of Indemnification) Bill

Selaine Saxby Excerpts
3rd reading
Friday 20th January 2023

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Pensions Dashboards (Prohibition of Indemnification) Act 2023 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Selaine Saxby Portrait Selaine Saxby (North Devon) (Con)
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I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle (Mary Robinson) for bringing forward this important Bill.

As a member of the Work and Pensions Committee, I suspect that I spend more time thinking about pensions than many. Trust in pensions is key to ensuring that people engage with saving for later life and adequately prepare for their old age. A Which? survey found that only 23% of people trust long-term financial products such as pensions. The Bill will strengthen people’s trust in the new pensions dashboards and ensure that people feel safe to engage with this useful new tool and gain a greater understanding of their pension.

Pensions dashboards are hoped to be a game-changer for engagement with pension pots and financial literacy when it comes to retirement plans. It is not new that we have poor financial literacy in the UK. Many people do not take advantage of the range of savings and investment products available to them because of a mix of a lack of trust and a lack of education about the benefits. As a former maths teacher, I put on the record my full support for our Prime Minister’s ambition for everyone to study maths to the age of 18, although I very much hope that it will be the practical, day-to-day mathematics that tackles the challenges of compound interest, debt management and, indeed, pensions.

People see pensions as something shrouded in mystery. The lack of literacy around pensions is exacerbated by their constantly being put at the bottom of people’s priority lists. Understandably, people are primarily focused on day-to-day spending, clearing debts, saving for homes and other big expenses and caring for family members. However, we all know that the earlier people engage with pensions, the more they can save and the greater the benefits.

Since 2012 , the Government’s automatic workplace enrolment scheme has proved very successful and ensures that younger people, who are likely not to be thinking of their retirement 40 or so years in the future, are saving from an early point. Although more people are saving through the scheme, it also creates a sense of security and that they do not need to engage with their pensions as they are already providing for their future. Such over-optimism in respect of their savings prevents people from engaging in the time-consuming process of consolidating pensions. These days, people change jobs with much more frequency and accrue lots of small pots. During the summer recess, when I had a little time on my hands, I thought I would try to consolidate my pensions; to date, I have not successfully consolidated a single pension, despite three of them relating to my work in this House.

By making pension savings more transparent, we will give people a clearer idea of their existing situation. They can then make informed decisions about where they put their money. Since covid-19, more and more of our population are confident in the use of online tools in place of physical access to banks. In fact, 23% of British people use Google as their first port of call for financial information, while 16% say they use social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as their source.

Currently, people with pensions worth more than £100,000 are more likely to engage regularly with their pension. Future planning should not only be the province of the wealthy. Once the dashboard is up and running—according to the MaPS, the pension dashboard programme is coming shortly, as my hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle has assured us, with the system currently being tested—I hope that savers across society use it and take control of their savings.

I also hope that the dashboard will help to alleviate savings gaps. Currently, the value of women’s pensions are 60% of the value of men’s on retirement. Women have historically had to work harder throughout their working lives to earn the same amount. Although the situation is improving, women still face greater caring responsibilities, which often lead to their taking time out of the workforce or cutting back on their hours.

I hope that the introduction of pensions dashboards will encourage more people to engage in planning for their future, because even in the current financial climate it is important that people are educated about their options for the future. The Bill will give people confidence that their money is safe and ensure that they are given accurate information and can make informed decisions about how to save for their hard-earned pensions.