Letter: Passports to chaos

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The outcry about the backlog of passport applications waiting to be processed is understandable. A lesser-known government computer failure is taking place at DSS headquarters in Long Benton, Newcastle. Perhaps it is of less interest because it only affects little old ladies like me.

I have been trying to pay the final year of my National Insurance contributions by quarterly bill now for more than a year. I am advised that my application cannot be processed because of "the modernisation of our computer system which is still ongoing". I am advised to pick up leaflet CA62, "Unhappy with our service", from any Social Security office.

When I telephone the office to make anxious inquiries (my pension depends on this), a friendly Geordie voice reassures me that it is "not my fault." Good. But whose fault is it, and how can I feel more secure about my future?

CAROLINE BEAMISH

London SW9

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