I REGRET that Miss Bell is unhappy with the level of service she has received from the council over the past few months ("Council tax misery", Letters, October 16).

I would agree that the council has been unable to deliver its council tax and benefits services to the standard which it aspires to achieve over the past few months.

The implementation of a new computer system to deal with housing, revenue and benefits payments necessitated transferring huge amounts of data and a "down-time" of six weeks.

During this time we were unable to deal with new claims. We had no choice over whether or not to replace the old system - it had been in place for 13 years and will shortly become obsolete.

The systems manage and record millions of pieces of data and carry out complex tasks. Changing to a new system was a huge commitment in staff time and training and delays were to be expected following its implementation in September.

The revenues and benefits team worked round the clock to provide services and deal with emergency cases, including providing emergency payments to those in severe difficulties.

During this time, the council had to prioritise its resources to ensure that customers with the greatest need received support. Payments for private tenants claiming housing benefit, who could be at risk of eviction, were given priority and this has ultimately led to delays in other areas.

We are taking every possible action to ensure that we bring our work up to date as quickly as possible and would like to thank our customers for their patience during this difficult time.

Simon Wiles,

Director of resources,

City of York Council,

Library Square, York.

Updated: 12:05 Tuesday, October 21, 2003