Anger at tax on laptop subsidy

28th January 2000 at 00:00
THE advertising watchdog is to investigate a complaint about the Government's scheme to help teachers buy their own computer.

Under the pound;20 million Computers for Teachers scheme, staff are offered a rebate of up to pound;500. However, Greg Davey, a Hertfordshire teacher, has complained to the Advertising Standards Authority that the scheme's adverts do not say the rebate is taxable. As The TES went to press, the website still did not mention the issue.

The tax has ang-ered a number of teachers, who have contacted The TES to express support for its free laptops campaign. It means the rebate of "up to pound;500" pledged by learning and technology minister Michael Wills is worth at most pound;380 after tax.

Jenny Smith, head of Elvington primary in York, labelled it "a con", while David Ball, a teacher in north Yorkshire, said the lack of publicity meant many would not realise the subsidy's true value.

Some teachers are also upset that they must buy acomputer from one of 19 approved suppliers. Ms Smith said it was a "farce" that machines could not be bought from any supplier.

The British Educational, Technology and Communications Agency, which advises the Government and drew up the supplier list, said the scheme was intended to offer "value for money" and that "suppliers were obliged to offer pricing equal to or below normal pricing". But some teachers think they can get better machines for less cash outside the scheme.

A Department for Education and Employment spokesperson said the computers in the scheme have extras such as software installation and maintenance and support included. Any complaints about the packages were being investigated.

The spokesperson said there was strong interest in the scheme, with more than 11,000 requesting a brochure and up to 350 calling the DFEE each day.

Letters, 18

Computers for Teachers scheme details at: http:cft.ngfl.gov.uk


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