Millennium Bug Watch

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The Independent Online
AFTER MILLIONS of pounds were spent on raising public awareness of the dangers, ministers are to launch a campaign aimed at damping down growing panic.

The leader of the Commons, Margaret Beckett, is to commission a research team to gauge the level of public concern before a television, poster and leaflet campaign next spring.

Hundreds of thousands of pounds will probably be spent to reassure people that Britain will not fall apart after all when computers fail to recognise the arrival of the year 2000.

The new approach comes after a costly campaign urging companies to be prepared and despite the fact that two out of five businesses have done nothing to tackle the problem.

A government source blamed the media for alarming people by running scare stories, adding: "What we don't want is people drawing out money because they think that bank computers will go down, or people bulk- buying dried milk because they are worried about dairy-production problems."