Experts warn of IT limitations on pensions plans

The government is ill-equipped to build the IT systems to underpin the National Pension Savings Scheme (NPSS) proposed by Lord Turner last week, experts have warned.

Lord Turner’s Pensions Commission recommended creating a national pension scheme built around two IT-dependent government operations: a pension collection system, into which all employer and staff contributions would pass; and the NPSS system itself, which would distribute the funds collected among managers and manage the individual pension accounts created.

Helen McCarthy, head of pensions and savings at the Association of British Insurers, raised doubts about the capability of the government to build these systems.

“It is an enormous project and we all know the government does not have the greatest track record with IT projects,” she told Personnel Today sister publication Computer Weekly. “The alternative is to use the industry’s existing IT infrastructure. The pensions industry has years of experience in running pension schemes.”

Gary Withers, chief executive of Norwich Union Life, said he would have doubts about the efficiency and quality of a state-run national pensions payment system.

“There is a track record of the private sector being a more effective operator of such systems,” he said.

A spokesman for HM Revenue & Customs said the organisations would need to wait for a ministerial decision on the report’s recommendations before commenting more fully.

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