A million people in the UK could be made unemployed by the millennium bug, according to a leading financial insurance firm. Guy Beacroft, group director at Consolidated Financial Insurance, claimed that Year 2000 problems could have wider social implications if businesses are not prepared. The inevitable repercussion will be an increase in unemployment, he said, with an impact on both the government and the creditor insurance sector. "There has to be serious preparation for the possible rise of benefit claimants in 2000," Beacroft added. The Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) refused to comment on speculation about job losses due to the millennium date change, but a spokesman said that it was an issue all businesses should take very seriously. "It should be in the top three priorities for all businesses. If it is not dealt with adequately then companies run the risk of going under," the spokesman warned. "It is not just a PC issue for the IT manager, it is a boardroom issue, and company chief executives should be involved - it is not up to the government to spend tax payers' money on sending people round every business in the UK, telling them how to fix it." Warrantee companies underwriting business and home appliances could also be at risk of going out of business due to the problem, Beacroft said. However, high street retailer, Comet, does not anticipate an explosion in warranty returns due to the millennium bug. A spokeswoman said: "We are working closely with our suppliers to make sure that this does not become a problem. We have been working on it for the last six months, and our suppliers will make sure replacement parts for equipment under warranty are available if necessary." EMU: further problems While the Year 2000 problem is still causing havoc for UK businesses, a report published yesterday highlighted again how European Monetary Union (EMU) will bring further IT difficulties. The results reveal that the UK and Germany are among the worst-prepared companies in Europe in readying IT systems for EMU. Only 6% of UK firms have adjusted their IT systems for the changeover, while almost half (46%) have not yet even considered EMU's IT implications. In Europe overall, an average of 11% of firms have already acted to prepare for EMU. The European Business Survey questioned over 6,000 large companies in Europe. It was carried out by Grant Thornton, an international federation of accounting firms.
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