PC loan schemes take off

PCs are being loaned to staff by 1,250 organisations - three times as many as this time last year

The number of companies offering Home Computing Initiatives (HCI) schemes to employees has more than tripled in the past year.

More than 1,250 organisations have implemented schemes, up from 380 at the same time last year.

The research by the HCI Alliance — whose members are BT, Intel and Microsoft — also found three-quarters of the employees who take up HCI computers are lower rate tax payers. This, according to HCI, shows that the schemes are helping to bridge the digital divide.

HCI schemes allow employers to loan computing equipment to their employees for personal use at home as a tax-free benefit.

While larger businesses led the way in implementing HCI schemes, now increasing numbers of small and medium-sized businesses are following suit, the group said.

HCI Alliance director Vivien Quinn said in a statement: "Nearly half a million employees have acquired home computing equipment through HCI schemes so far and many thousands more will do so in 2006."

Royal Mail learning and development director Peter Wilkinson added in a statement: "Our HCI programme 'Learning for All' has been tremendously successful in the Royal Mail, so much so that we believe there would be an outcry from our employees if we thought about stopping it."