Fury over time lag on laptop rebates

Chris Johnston finds teachers across the nation wondering where the money is.

THOUSANDS of teachers are being short-changed by Whitehall because of delays in the Computers for Teachers rebate scheme.

The Department for Education and Employment admitted it had been overwhelmed by the huge response to the offer - and offered pound;15 to those who wait more than 30 days for payment.

Some have waited almost three months for rebates of up to pound;500 for buying computers, payments which should have taken four weeks. A three-month delay would cost about pound;20 in credit card interest charges.

Helen Bramall, from Whitehall junior school in Uxbridge, west London, sent her application to the DFEE on March 29 and is still waiting for the refund.

"I am frustrated. I would like to be able to pay off my credit card. Is the DFEE going to pay the interest I am being charged?" she said.

The TES has campaigned for every techer to get a laptop and helped to convince the Government to pay the income-tax liability on the rebate.

Colin Wagstaff, from south London's Forest Hill High, sent his forms in early April. He was told last week to wait another month.

Dave Vizard, from Teignmouth, south Devon, labelled the scheme a "scam". He has waited since March 31 for a refund. Claire Jackson, a Leicestershire primary teacher, finally got her payment on June 1 after submitting her forms on March 1.

Two MPs have recently asked questions in Parliament about the scheme. Michael Wills, learning and technology minister, said the sheer scale of more than 27,000 applications had caused delays.

A DFEE spokesperson said claims received before May 12 will be paid in 10 days, or claimants contacted by today. Claims received from May 13 to 31 will be paid, or contacted, by June 30.

Leader, 16

Rebate enquiries: 0870 0002288

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