Talking Point
Local government: Mostly Blue (little risk of material disruption)

Ten local councils in England and Scotland were named by a government watchdog in July for failing to do enough to tackle the millennium bug. Those councils have now passed Action 2000 guidelines and are rated 100% Blue.

In Northern Ireland, four councils are still rated Amber, but hope to complete millennium plans by the end of October. They are Antrim, Armagh, Ballymena and Larne.

In its July report, Action 2000 was worried that some essential services could be among those disrupted if councils suffer computer failures on or after 1 January next year. Scotland had been a particular worry as councils have wider responsibilities than England and Wales, and include transport, social services and education.

But the Scottish unitary authorities of Orkney, East Dunbartonshire, the Western Isles Council and Argyll and Bute are now rated Blue.

Council services include the payment of housing benefits, child support services, rubbish collection and meals-on-wheels.

Benefits all-clear

Welfare payments are expected to be paid as usual during the New Year, despite horror stories of computer glitches wiping people's records.

The Department of Social Security was given a Blue rating under the Action 2000 'traffic light' system - meaning no risk was found of material disruption.

All 31 of the benefit payment computer systems have been tested and are ready for the Year 2000. The computers on front-line workers' desks are compliant.

This means there should be no problems with the payment of benefits, war pensions or the Child Support Agency.

Northern Ireland, which operates slightly differently from the rest of the UK, has been given an overall Blue rating for payments of welfare and is assessing its contingency plans.

The Action 2000 traffic light codes:

Blue: The assessment has not identified any risks of material disruption to the infrastructure process.

Amber: The assessment indicates that there is some risk of material disruption to infrastructure processes, but that there is an agreed containment plan to rectify shortcomings.

Red: The assessment indicates that there is a severe risk of material disruption to infrastructure processes and that timely rectification might not be possible.

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