Government plans to introduce stakeholder pensions next year face uncertainty, partly because of the complexity of IT systems to support the change.
Stakeholder pensions are due to be launched in April 2001, but legislation has not been finalised and no definitive specifications have been agreed for the IT systems.
It is expected that the Revenue's main IT partner, EDS, will build a registration system for companies and individuals who wish to participate, although details have yet to be agreed.
This system would link into the Revenue's National Insurance Recording System (Nirs2), based at Longbenton, which was developed by EDS's competitor Andersen Consulting. Nirs2 will provide information on national insurance contributions and age-related rebates that might be due to those who take up stakeholder pensions. But it needs major enhancements to cope with stakeholder pensions.
Nirs2 is still being stabilised and no deal has yet been concluded between the Revenue and Andersen Consulting over how it should be expanded and at what cost.
A spokeswoman for the Revenue said negotiations arecontinuingwith Andersen Consulting over the role that the system will play in stakeholder pensions.
These difficulties highlight the problem of introducing new government schemes when there is uncertainty over the successful delivery of IT systems to support the changes.