PracticeConsultingBenefits struck by network crash at DWP

Benefits struck by network crash at DWP

Problems with a desktop software upgrade left 80 per cent of staff at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) without access to benefit payment processing systems this week.

Link: £75m IT costs for Revenue and Customs

The DWP network crashed on Monday and suppliers EDS and Microsoft have been working since to overcome the fault.

The department claims that 95 per cent of the problems are now fixed.

The precise cause of the crash is, as yet, unclear. Reports suggest that an upgrade of some PCs from Windows 2000 to XP went wrong, and left some systems with access to the DWP mainframe, but not others.

A DWP spokeswoman said: ‘There have been problems with a routine software upgrade that upset desktops, but business systems have been unaffected. We have been working with our partners EDS and Microsoft to ensure the problems are dealt with as part of our business continuity program.

‘Regular pensions and benefits payments have been made with only delays in dealing with new and amended claims. As of yesterday, employees have been able to access the business systems through their desktops.’

The DWP’s computer systems have been under heavy scrutiny recently. The head of the Child Support Agency resigned last week as problems with a new system – also supplied by EDS – caused delays in paying single parent families.

And the Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee released a critical report on the department’s IT in August.

‘Once again vulnerable people have been let down by the DWP and its computer chaos,’ said Steve Webb MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary.

‘It seems that scarcely a week goes by without another example of a government computer system, overseen by well paid consultants, leaving people’s finances in a mess.

‘It is time that an independent body like the National Audit Office took a close look at the DWP and its computer problems and pressed the Department to get this mess sorted out once and for all.’

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