The government is to relaunch its provision of tax breaks for employers who offer their staff the chance to buy PCs on company loans.
The Home Computing Initiative (HCI), originally launched in 1999 and set for relaunch next Monday, is intended to increase IT literacy in the UK.
The first scheme failed to take off because its details were "buried" in tax legislation, according to Microsoft, called in by the e-Envoy to help promote the scheme along with Intel and BT.
HCI allows employers to implement a tax-exempt loan scheme (over a maximum period of 36 months) for employees to buy home PCs while also taking advantage of National Insurance contributions benefits.
Employees agree to have the loan repayments deducted from their salary at source and/or pay off the outstanding cost of the equipment when the loan period expires. The scheme promises savings of up to 50 per cent on high street prices.
"When it was first launched, details of the scheme were buried deep in 1999 tax legislation. Nobody really knew about it and when they did, they couldn't believe it," said Jeremy Gittins, Microsoft HCI alliance director.
"Now we're are getting involved to raise awareness, make it easy to do and increase ICT skills levels in the UK."
Peter Oliver, BT HCI alliance, director added: "We have come together over this to support the publication of HCI guidelines, but also to represent the IT industry as a whole."
And Simon Dawson, Intel HCI alliance director, said: "The HCI agenda has broader implications for the UK economy and closing the skills gap"
Any interested business should register for a group consumer credit licence under the Consumer Credit Act 1974.
"The group licence enables employers to provide home computing benefits without requiring them to apply individually for a consumer credit licence," said Penny Boys, executive director at the Office of Fair Trading.
Other organisations, including the Trades Union Congress, the Confederation of British Industry and the Department of Trade and Industry, are also involved in raising awareness of the scheme.
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