A pilot scheme to help people who are new to technology purchase their own computer and internet connection has been launched by Remploy, a specialist employment service for disabled people. The ‘E-cycle’ project aims to provide low cost hardware and connectivity to help make the web more accessible for everyone.
“There are 9.2 million adults in the UK who are currently offline. Four million of this group are also socially and economically disadvantaged,” said a Remploy spokesman.
“All of them are missing out on the many benefits, employment opportunities and cost savings that the web can offer. For those who do take their first steps online the process of then purchasing their own computer and first internet connection can be both confusing and expensive.”
The Remploy E-cycle scheme uses refurbished computers, and will provide customers with low cost machines and special internet deals to get them started at home “quickly, easily and affordably”.
Meanwhile, the E-cycle website is designed to be easy for new users to navigate, and will allow the purchaser to choose a package and payment method to suit them.
Prices will start from £98 for a PC with a flat screen monitor, mouse and keyboard, including operating system and office package with warranty, telephone support and delivery.
Users will be able to get additional support by phone and email from Positive IT solutions, which can help with set up problems and troubleshooting.
Connectivity is provided by Three mobile, with one month available for £9, or three months for £18.
Users will be able to pay online, or off-line using cash at more than 20,000 Payzone locations including local stores, garages and Post Offices.
Around 60 UK online centres across the country will be taking part in the E-cycle pilot and 200 computer packages have been set aside for the trial. Over the course of the next 12 months around 8,000 consumers are expected to take up the Remploy offer.
UK online centres managing director Helen Milner said: “Although research shows going online can save people around £560 a year, we know the cost of setting yourself up at home is still a real barrier for lots of people.”