Jonathan Stapleton takes a look at the latest ministerial statement on the pensions dashboard and wonders how long it will take before launch
They say Rome wasn't built in a day and it very much seems that Pensions Dashboards will take quite a long time to be built also.
Today's statement by pensions minister Laura Trott said more time was needed to deliver a complex build, and for the pensions industry to help facilitate the successful connection of a wide range of different IT systems to the dashboards digital architecture.
Trott added that, going forward, the government would not include a staging timeline in legislation - setting an overall connection deadline of 31 October 2026 instead.
She noted, however, this deadline would not be the dashboards available point - the point at which dashboards will be accessible to the public - which Trott said "could be earlier than this". Presumably, it might also be later - even much later than this also.
Given that we started talking about dashboards - then called the Online Retirement Planner (ORP) - back in 2002, it does seem we have already had quite a long time to sort this all out. How much more time do we really need?
In reality of course, the date of the final staging date has only been pushed back by one year.
Many in the industry have welcomed the delay - providing, as the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association says, "some helpful clarity and flexibility for the pensions industry".
Some, however, warn of a loss of momentum in the programme - something the Society of Pension Professionals (SPP) says has already started to be seen since the reset was announced.
The SPP and others are also concerned that, without a new staging timeline to be set out in regulation, schemes may solely focus on the end date - causing a further loss of momentum and a capacity crunch for all parties as that end date approaches.
As Equisoft products sales director Howard Finnegan puts it: "No incentive for earlier adoption is a recipe for delay and inevitable crunch as deadline approaches."
It is clear we now need to crack on and at pace. It has now been 21 years since ORPs were first mooted and some nine years since the project's latest incarnation started to be discussed more seriously in 2014, when the Financial Conduct Authority recommended the development of a pensions dashboard.
The launch of auto-enrolment in 2012, the subsequent growth of people saving into a workplace scheme has led to a surge in the number of small pension pots and the number of people with multiple pension pots.
When you add freedom and choice into the mix, people increasingly need to engage with their pension and know exactly what they have and where. Never has it been more urgent for consumers to be able to view all their pension savings - including the state pension - in one place.
Returning to my original statement - some calculate that it took roughly 800 years to build ancient Rome to its peak. Let's hope it doesn't take that long to get pensions dashboards off the ground.
Jonathan Stapleton is editor of Professional Pensions