Gov't to fund web access for low-income families

The prime minister has outlined a £300m programme which will see the government provide broadband connections, software and computers for children in low income and jobless families

Nearly every family in the UK is to have access to broadband at home under plans laid out by prime minister Gordon Brown.

In his keynote speech at the Labour Party Conference on Tuesday, Brown outlined a £300m programme which will see the government pay for broadband connections, software and computers for all children aged between seven and 19 in low income and jobless families.

The scheme will be rolled out from this November with around one million households entitled to a home-access voucher over the next three years.

Brown said in the speech: "We want to enable all families to use the internet to link back to their children's school — and so [schools minister] Jim Knight is announcing that we will fund over a million extra families to get online, on the way to our ambition of Britain leading the world with more of our people than any other major economy able to access the internet and broadband."

Currently, around one-third of all UK homes are without a web connection.

Knight said in a statement: "Home access to ICT has educational, economic and social benefits. In fact it is now clear that pupils without internet access are at a disadvantage to their peers.

"Home access is increasingly becoming an essential part of a good education and having a computer with internet access should be seen as equally essential as having a school bag, a uniform or a pen and paper."

A recent report by the Office for National Statistics found children with home broadband typically achieve better GCSE results.


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