Computing scheme proves a big hit

Jan 27 2005 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Home Computing Initiative (HCI) schemes have became the fastest-growing employee benefit in the UK.

Made possible by the Governmentís tax exemption on loaned computers, HCI schemes allow employers to loan computing equipment to their employees for personal use at home as a tax-free benefit.

More than 380 companies, employing over 3.6 million employees have committed to implementing HCI schemes to date.

According to the Home Computing Initiative Alliance, the acceleration in take-up is occurring across both enterprises and small businesses, and across all industry sectors.

A recent survey showing that nearly four out of five HR Directors are aware of the schemes Ė up from a third at the same time last year.

Sir Digby Jones, director-general of the CBI, remains a major supporter of the initiatives one year on.

"Of all the workforce skills today, there is no question that basic IT literacy is one of the most important, whatever your business and whatever the make-up of your workforce," he said.

"HCI schemes give people the opportunity to learn at their own pace, in their own way and in their own environment. I am pleased to say that the CBIís own HCI scheme will roll out in the next few months.Ē

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) is implementing a scheme for its members across its Accredited Chamber Network and is taking a leading role in educating UK's small and medium businesses about the benefits.

David Frost, Director General of the BCC said: "Having staff with the right skills is as big an issue in small businesses as it is in enterprise. However smaller businesses often lack the resource to invest in structured staff training programmes.

"HCI schemes can provide extra opportunities for staff to improve their skills which ultimately benefits the business overall. We encourage all SMEs to take advantage of them."

Brendan Barber, General Secretary of the TUC, which is also rolling out a scheme for its staff, agreed:

"We are keen supporters of Home Computing Initiatives and have put into practice what we preach. Our employees have given it a warm welcome.

"Throughout the country unions have been encouraging employers to take up HCI schemes, and although it has taken a while for people to understand what it's all about, it is now taking off in a big way. No employer of choice can afford not to take up an HCI scheme."