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Government Sets Out Euro IT Changeover Plan

24 June 2003

Ministers are to set up a senior management group with responsibility for ensuring that public sector IT systems are ready for the introduction of the euro.

Details of the new body have been published in the Government's third National Changeover Plan, which outlines the preparations being made for potential UK entry into the European single currency. Ensuring that government IT systems and databases can cope with the euro changeover is, according to the document, "the biggest single task for the public sector".

Guidance for local authorities was published by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister last week and is available here.

Despite the Chancellor's rejection of UK membership of the euro at the present time, preparations within Government for joining at a future date are already well underway. The Treasury envisages that the switchover to euro cash, known as 'E Day', would take place around 30 months after a positive referendum on the euro. This would involve making sure that IT systems are compatible with both sterling and euros, allow both currencies to be displayed and can continue to function during any transition period. The Government has also drawn up a 19-point 'road-map' to help public bodies in their IT planning and preparations. The document does not give details of the projected costs involved, but discloses that to date, total public sector spending on euro preparations has amounted to £36.8 million, with just three departments, the Inland Revenue, HM Customs & Excise and the Department for Work and Pensions accounting for £33.8m of this expenditure.

The Government is currently finalising the terms of a framework agreement tender covering the UK public sector for IT consultancy services relating to the changeover.

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