HC Deb 22 February 1999 vol 326 cc162-4W
Mr. Cousins

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many extra staff have been recruited to compensate for the delays in the NIRS2 project; how many of these staff are(a) short-term and (b) part-time workers; what has been the cost of employing these staff including employment on-costs; and how much of this cost is recoverable from Anderson Consulting. [71788]

Mr. Timms

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Rendel) on 15 February 1999,Official Report, column 556.

Mr. Cousins

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security for which customers and from what dates the Contributions Agency has declined to accept national insurance contributions because of an inability to record those contributions; how many customers are affected; how much revenue has been lost; and how it will be recovered. [71784]

Mr. Timms

The Contributions Agency has never declined to accept National Insurance contributions from its customers or contributors because of an inability to record the contributions paid on the new National Insurance Recording System (NIRS2).

However, there have been some situations where the Department has been unable to register an individual to pay Class 2 self-employed contributions either by the Direct Debit or quarterly payment method as a consequence of the delays in introducing the NIRS2 on-line facilities.

The Department identified approximately 160,000 customers who were affected by the delays and provided them with information. Contingency arrangements were invoked where appropriate to minimise the impacts to customers.

Since the introduction of the on-line facility, the Agency has cleared approximately 31,000 cases from the 160,000 outstanding backlog cases. It is also continuing to action all new applications as they are received.

Collections of all outstanding Class 2 liabilities affected by the delays will be handled sensitively.

Mr. Cousins

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what are the objectives of the NIRS2 project; when the final decision was taken to implement the project; on what dates revisions of the objectives were approved; what has been the expenditure on this project to date; and if he will list the remaining implementation milestones to completion. [71770]

Mr. Timms

The objectives of the NIRS2 project were to develop a new computer system that would replace the ageing NIRS1 system and to support the legislative changes brought about by the Pensions Act 1995.

The original NIRS2 Agreement was to deliver the system in 3 releases between February 1997 and April 1999. A subsequent Deed of Agreement was agreed in July 1996, which allowed for a phased delivery of the first release. Although incorporating the original time frame, the phasing of delivery between those dates was significantly altered. Release 1a The agreement delivery date of 10 February 1997 was achieved. Release 1b The original agreement date of 27 October 1997 was not achieved. Delivery took place on the 28 January 1998. Release 1c The original agreement date of 6 April 1998 was not achieved. Part of the service was delivered on the 13 July 1998, and final acceptance took place on the 28 August 1998.

Release 2–3 is the remaining milestone. The agreed delivery date is the 6 April 1999, and this is still the current target. A maintenance release incorporating changes requested by the business is also planned for 6 April 1999.

As reported by the National Audit Office on 29 May 1997 the cost of implementing the NIRS2 computer system is likely to be around £134 million.

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