Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Home computer initiative

Schools should be aware of the Home Computer Initiative, or HCI, established as part of the 1999 Finance Act to encourage employees to purchase computers for home use. It is nothing to do with the Computers for Teachers scheme.

The rationale is that employees who use computers at home will be more likely to acquire the skills needed at work, thereby enhancing productivity.

In the scheme, an employer provides a computer (desktop or laptop) to the employee. A fixed sum is deducted from the employee's wages or salary each month for three years and there is then one final payment. The computer belongs to the employee.

The purchase does not attract VAT and the employee saves on income tax and on national insurance on the payments. The employer also saves on national insurance on any payments made.

The downside for employers is the need to devote resources to setting the scheme up. Partly on account of this, a number of businesses have sprung up to take that responsibility away from the employer.

The cost of this service is recouped from charging employees more. However, even when this is accounted for, the scheme still means employees can buy computers at a much lower cost.

For LEA schools the first port of call should be the LEA, to find out if they operate the scheme (and if not, why not). Schools and colleges that are direct employers should consult the DTI website for full details.

There is, apparently, such a thing as a free lunch after all.

Issue 1 - March 2005

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