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'PC for £98' scheme to get unconnected Brits online

8,000 machines expected to be sold in next year

Brits will be offered PCs for less than £100 as part of a government scheme to get millions online for the first time.

The E-Cycle scheme will provide low-cost refurbished computers, which will be priced at £98, along with a subsidised web connection for £9 per month. The machines will be available from Remploy and the 60 UK online centres that offer free IT training.

Remploy, which helps disadvantaged and disabled people return to work, initially has 200 machines. However, it hopes the scheme, which will be trialled for a year, will sell 8,000 machines over the 12 months.

The scheme is part of Race Online 2012 which features a number of proposals set out by UK Digital Champion and founder of lastminute.com Martha Lane Fox, in a bid to get the 9.2 million Brits that are currently offline net access before the end of the current parliament.

Of those, is it estimated that four million are not online due to social and economic disadvantages, which means the cost of PCs and internet subscriptions are the biggest barriers for these Brits when it comes to getting online.

However, the £98 package includes a PC flat screen monitor, mouse, keyboard operating system and even an office package with warranty, telephone support and delivery. The £9 net connection will be provided by 3 through a dongle.

"Working in partnership is crucial to getting the UK connected and confident with technology, and the E-cycle scheme is just one of the projects being put together by Race Online 2012 partners across the public, private and third sectors. I am excited about the possibilities this low-cost pilot scheme presents for the many people in the UK who so far have simply not been able to afford to get online," said Lane-Fox.

Research estimates that by being online, Brits can save up to £560 per year.

"Although research shows going online can save people around £560 year, we know the cost of setting yourself up at home is still a real barrier for lots of people. Remploy E-cycle provides another economically and environmentally friendly option for first time buyers - and it's designed specifically for those new to the internet," added UK online centres managing director Helen Milner.

The previous Labour government launched the Home Access Scheme, which was expected to give 270,000 disadvantaged families free access to PCs and the internet. However, it's subsequently been scrapped.

See also: 30 million PCs are currently unused in the UK


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