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With the news that things in the passport office are beginning to return to normal, it was about time for another government computer system to go wrong, and it has. The new software system installed to manage the issuing of Student Loans has succumbed to the traditional teething troubles of new software, causing delays in sending out cheques to students. The Department for Education & Employment (DfEE) said that only a small number of local authorities had problems and that cheques would go out on time. A spokesperson for the DfEE said: "The majority of local authorities are managing, the question is why the others are not." Officials shrugged off suggestions of government responsibility for the new software. "Each LEA makes the decision about which software company it buys from. It is not something decided centrally." Comparisons to the recent foul up at the Passport Office were inevitable. Edward Lister, the Conservative leader of Wandsworth council said: "This is the passport nightmare all over again. Everything that could be delayed, has been delayed." ®

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