pounds 5m to be used to allay fears

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A pounds 5M ADVERTISING campaign is to be launched by the Government to warn the public of the dangers of the so-called millennium bug, Margaret Beckett, the Leader of the Commons, announced yesterday.

The publicity drive, featuring TV and press advertising, will begin in the late spring to spearhead efforts to reassure people about the impact of the date change on computer systems.

Mrs Beckett, who has responsibility for co-ordinating Whitehall's response to the 2000 compliance problem, said the public should look principally to private firms for advice on the effect of the bug.

However, she stressed no one needed to hoard banknotes as the Government had been assured by banks and building societies that all cash machines will be functioning properly.

The information campaign will be backed up by market research to track changes in public perception of the problem every month.

The Government's official "bug busters", Action 2000, published practical advice last October about the impact of the bug on home appliances.