Orwell Housing Association is piloting a new government scheme to provide grants for computers and internet access to low-income families.
The £300 million Home Access programme, announced by the government in September 2008, is intended to deliver equal learning opportunities to the 35 per cent of families that currently have no access to the internet at home. The pilot will refine and test the process for awarding grants for computing packages to low income families.
Aimed at low-income families and worth around £600, the Home Access grant will cover the cost of a PC or laptop, basic software, internet access for one year and three-years’ technical support.
Suffolk and Oldham have been picked to pilot the scheme, ahead of a national rollout this autumn, with the aim of universal home access by 2011.
More than 800 families in Suffolk have already been awarded grants and it is expected that around 7500 learners will receive funding during the pilot.
Richard Stewart, financial inclusion officer, Orwell Housing, said “I cannot overstate the importance of the need for IT in today’s learning environment. At Orwell Housing we will help our tenants with the process of applying for the grants. We don’t want families left in the cold, unable to afford a computer or internet connection; we want to support these families and ensure that the education and social benefits available to them are accessible.”