The chancellor is considering a u-turn on his Budget decision to scrap tax breaks for workers to buy home computers.
The move, confirmed by a Treasury spokesman, follows intense lobbying from employers, unions and technology groups, which labelled the move to scrap the Home Computing Initiative (HCI) a “huge mistake”.
TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber, welcomed signs that the Treasury is considering a replacement for the HCI.
“The HCI has helped thousands of low-paid workers without confident IT skills to buy their first ever computer. Unions up and down the country have been promoting the scheme, often linked to training schemes. The sudden closure of the scheme would mean that many hours of voluntary union effort would go to waste,” he said.
“While we think stories of its abuse have been exaggerated, we would have no problem with a new scheme that targeted assistance more effectively.”
The aim of the initiative was to help bridge the digital divide by encouraging employees to get computers at home and improve their IT skills. It was also hoped it would further encourage the development of telecommuting.
The scheme in its current form will close on 6 April.