It won't be the end of the world

But it's best to be prepared for the Millennium Bug, says Melanie Bien

Astronauts may seem to have very little in common with bankers, insurers or computer technicians. But all of them are worried about the Millennium Bug.

Despite claiming that its equipment is Y2K-friendly, Nasa is taking no risks, bringing its space shuttle Discovery back from its mission to repair the Hubble space telescope today.

So if those with advanced technical equipment are worried, should investors and savers be panicking about the safety of their money?

The official answer is "no". Margaret Beckett, Leader of the Commons, told MPs that there was no "identified risk of material disruption" over the millennium period, although she could not say whether mobile phone networks will be able to withstand the extra volume of calls as the clock strikes midnight.

Insurers and investment companies are doing their best to reassure the public. All have been running tests so that it will be business as usual. Banks have made a concerted effort to persuade customers that their computer systems will be able to cope and that accounts are not at risk. Some 30,000 IT consultants will be on hand in the City to deal with any problems that might arise. However, for peace of mind, it is worth getting a print-out showing how much cash you have in the bank on New Year's Eve. Savers should also keep hold of a couple of recent statements detailing how much money they have on deposit.

As far as investments are concerned, get an up-to-date statement from your fund manager giving details of your investments. Pensions should be treated in a similar fashion; this could very well be your biggest investment, so it is important to keep an up-to-date record.

There is little reason to withdraw all your money and put it under the mattress until the celebrations are over. Indeed this could be very unwise, given the possibility of an increased number of burglaries over the festive period. Householders should ensure their alarm systems are millennium compliant, especially as many people will be away for at least part of the festive period.

Although a run on cash is expected, it is unwise to withdraw large amounts of money from automated teller machines (ATMs) on the back of rumours that they will run out of cash on New Year's Eve. The Bank of England has foreseen the problem and is making an extra pounds 20bn in notes available to cope with demand.

As most high-street banks will be closed for an unprecedented length of time, keeping ATMs topped up with those notes could be a problem. But banks are taking measures to ensure that there will be plenty of cash available over the four-day millennium weekend.

Lloyds TSB is causing controversy by giving computer staff pounds 1,030 per call- out to do this. Most banking staff will be on call 24 hours a day anyway in case of glitches.

Nor can banks allow ATMs to break down: a broken-down cash machine might make panicky customers think that the bank's main computer system is affected by the Y2K Bug.

The biggest risk is likely to come not from within the UK but from other countries that have taken less comprehensive precautions. These may destabilise even the most robust financial markets. This has already been apparent in the currency markets, where the euro has weakened recently as investors have moved into the dollar and the yen.


Keep bank statements.

Get an up-to-date statement from your fund manager and pension fund.

Don't panic and withdraw large amounts of cash.

Check your insurance policy to ensure your household goods and computer equipment are covered.


Banks are closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, 27 and 28 December, as well as 1 and 2 January. They open at normal hours on 29 and 30 December.

A limited number of branches will be open on New Year's Eve and 3 January.

Most banks in Scotland will be closed on 4 January because of the extra day's holiday. Elsewhere, normal trading will be resumed.

Most telephone and internet banking services will be unaffected during the millennium period, operating as normal.

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Johnny Depp no longer cares if people criticise his movie flops
Arts and Entertainment
All in a day's work: the players in the forthcoming 'Posh People: Inside Tatler'
TVGrace Dent thinks we should learn to 'hug a Hooray Henry', because poshness is an accident of birth
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)

Presents unwrapped, turkey gobbled... it's time to relax

Arts and Entertainment
Convicted art fraudster John Myatt

The two-year-old said she cut off her fringe because it was getting in her eyes
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Austen Lloyd: Company Secretary

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: EAST ANGLIA - SENIOR SOLICITOR LEVEL ROLE** -...

Citifocus Ltd: German Speaking Client Specialist

£Attractive Package: Citifocus Ltd: Prestigious asset management house seeks a...

Citifocus Ltd: Performance & Risk Oversight

£Negotiable: Citifocus Ltd: This is a varied role focusing on the firm's mutua...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Director - SaaS (SME/Channel) - £140,000 OTE

£90000 - £140000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you a high achievin...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game