All I want for Christmas is a subsidised PC

...and with some companies that's exactly what you'll get...

...and with some companies that's exactly what you'll get...

Just one month after motor giant Ford pulled the plug on a subsidised PC scheme for its 300,000 workers, Severn Trent has said it will foot a £2m bill to wire-up its workforce this Christmas. The utility company is working with People PC to provide subsidised computers and internet access for most of its 4,500 employees. In true seasonal spirit, the project is set to be well under way by Christmas. Workers will be asked to pay a monthly fee of £12 for an HP Pavilion PC and printer, with Microsoft software and internet access. Peter Adams, UK general manager at People PC, said that up to 60 per cent of Severn Trent staff are expected to sign up, with up to 2,000 receiving their computers before Christmas. But as Ford proved, even industry giants can find a goodwill gesture costs too much. Just half of its worldwide staff had received subsidised computers by the time it axed the scheme. Half of Intel's 70,000 strong workforce were also left without computers after the company abandoned a similar project early this year. With Severn Trent financing just 50 per cent of the project's cost, and limiting the sign-up period to the weeks leading up to Christmas, it is unlikely to be a flop, according to Chris Ford, head of information systems with the company. According to Adams, generous UK tax incentives and a stronger economy also means companies operating in the UK are more likely to keep such schemes going. While People PC is working on just two new projects in the US, Adams said the company is close to sealing 10 new deals in the UK. "There is definitely a better climate here. Tax incentives across Europe and in the US are not as advantageous, and the business climate here has not taken the same hit as the US," he said. Vivendi, Powergen, Delta Airlines and the New York Post have also implemented wired workforce schemes with People PC in the past year.