HC Deb 19 October 1999 vol 336 cc556-7W
Mr. David Atkinson

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement of progress on the millennium readiness of his Department's computer systems, and those for which it is responsible in the provision of public services; if contingency plans are in place; and what slippage has occurred since the July Quarterly report to the House. [93570]

Angela Eagle

Details of the Department's and its Agencies' progress in tackling the Millennium bug are set out in our quarterly monitoring returns. These are available in the Libraries of the House and are published on the internet. The results of the October monthly review of progress of Departments and Agencies in tackling the bug are due to be announced shortly by the President of the Council.

The Department's key benefit paying computer systems had all corrective work and testing complete by the end of 1998 allowing a full annual processing cycle before 2000. Additionally, all telecoms systems have been confirmed as compliant and the few remaining critical embedded systems (less than one per cent.) are receiving close management attention and will be cleared by 31 October. Since the President of the Council's quarterly Report to the House in July, there has been some very minor slippage in the embedded systems area, which poses no risk to the delivery of benefit.

Contingency plans are in place; have been rehearsed; and continue to be refined to mitigate the latest assessment of risks, in particular those which specifically relate to the date change. The Department will have a Millennium Control Centre in operation over the period 1-5 January 2000, which will manage a range of readiness checks and pro-active communication on our status. The Departments key Social Security services of paying benefits, pensions and Child Support have been subject to independent assessment and each were assessed as "Blue" prior to Action 2000's National Infrastructure Forum in July. The results of the latest independent assessment of the "pay benefit" sector will be announced at the next National Infrastructure Forum on 21 October.