Thought I'd post this up here as it hasn't been that widely publicised yet, even though it's a great scheme that could help out a lot of people.
So for those that haven't heard, there is now a scheme to give lower income families with children access to their own computer at home. After being trialled in 3 boroughs last year, the scheme has since gone nationwide across England (at present Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland miss out unfortunately).
The 3 eligibility criteria you need to meet are:
1) The child you are claiming for must be attending a state school and in year 3 to 9
2) You must be in receipt of child benefit
3a) Currently claiming free school meals
3b) You must be entitled to one of the following:
Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
Child Tax Credit (but not Working Tax Credit)
Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit but not Savings Credit)
Income-based Employment Support Allowance
Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
3 packages are available to apply for:
1) Laptop or desktop computer and relevant software, with full tech support for 1 year
2) Internet access for 1 year
3) Both of the above combined
To apply you need to ring the following number: 0333 200 1004.
You will then be sent an application form and receive a decision within 3 weeks of returning it.
If successful, you are given a notification of entitlement and a pre-paid card which can be used at one of the scheme's approved suppliers to spend on your choice of computer.
The suppliers websites are:http://www.homeaccesscomputers.comhttp://www.cihomeaccess.co.ukhttp://www.comet.co.uk/homeaccesshttp://www.misco.co.uk/homeaccesshttp://www.homeaccessgrant.comhttp://www.xma4ha.co.uk
The computer choices available at present are:
Samsung N130 netbook
Samsung R519 laptop
Toshiba L450D laptop
Acer 5235 laptop
A couple of the suppliers are also offering low-specced desktop machines too.
Each of the machines comes loaded as standard (as specified by the scheme) with Microsoft Office 2007, some form of antivirus and also some parental control software. Any additional software is dependent upon supplier.
The operating systems are either Windows 7 or XP. Please double check with individual suppliers on this though because you may find the OS they ship with the machine differs from that listed on their website, so it is best to confirm by phone what you would actually be getting.
The internet is roaming internet with either 3 or T-mobile via dongle.
There's also an extended area included in the scheme for Assistive Technology, that aims to enable children with disabilities and learning difficulties with specialist equipment and software.
Lastly, applications are being dealt with on a first come first served basis, although the aim of the scheme is to supply 270,000 households by March 2011 so there is probably no rush.
Hope that info helps. If you have any more queries ring the number provided or see the deal link for the website.