Home computer scheme promises £1bn bonanza

Potential extra revenue of £1bn could be on the cards for accountants as a government-led IT scheme gains momentum.

The DTI-led Home Computer Initiative scheme has been introduced to enable employers to implement a tax-free loan scheme for computer equipment for their employees to use at home. And accountants have been targeted by scheme providers as being in prime position to advise clients on the benefits of the scheme.

A new HCI entrant, run by high street electrical chain Comet and marketing business Boomerang, is looking to work with accountants to encourage SME take-up.

Boomerang MD Mark Stimpfig believes accountants could earn £100 per staff member at SME clients, with more than 10 million employees working in that sector.

While the scheme has been a success among large corporates, take-up has been slight among SMEs.

‘It’s already apparent that the scheme needs a catalyst or instigator among SMEs ð accountants are in the prime position to do it, especially those that have payroll clients,’ said Stimpfig.

HCI works primarily by increasing the benefits package offered by employers to staff. Normally the employee would accept a small salary sacrifice in return for the loaned computer. Depending on the scale of the project, the business could reduce NI contributions on the reduced salaries, in turn generating savings, or the savings could be passed onto accountants as a fee for the service.

Dave Reynolds, chief executive of IAAITC – which also runs an HCI scheme aimed at accountants – welcomed the launch of the project.

‘There are three million small businesses in the UK each employing fewer than 50 staff who?ve been largely ignored by HCI providers. So its good news that more of us are working with accountants and focusing on the SME sector.’

The scheme has already created interest at south-east accountants Bishop Fleming.

‘We’re doing plenty of follow-up meetings with clients about take-up,’ said senior partner Graham Howe.

Related reading

Life Belt with Computer Folders