A Warwick company is taking advantage of a new Govern-ment initiative by providing its employees with cut-price home computers.
Guthrie Douglas, whose industrial shutters and doors are sold throughout the world, is one of the first local companies to use the scheme - which uses tax breaks to make the computers more affordable.
The scheme, launched by the Government last year to increase the use of computers in the home and boost ICT skills, allows companies to lease computers which are then rented to employees through a salary sacrifice arrangement.
Because the payments are exempt from income tax and National Insurance, the cost is reduced by up to 50 per cent - while the employer saves NI contributions.
The workforce at Guthrie's Heathcote Industrial Estate headquarters have been shown a wide selection of laptops, home computers and media centres in a road show organised by Coventry-based accountants Pilley & Florsham.
The firm has been selected to drive the Home Computer Initiative (HCI) in the region by the Independent Association of Accountants Information Technology Consultants (IAAITC).
Pilley & Florsham has organised seminars and road-shows to demonstrate to Coventry and Warwickshire businesses how to enjoy tax breaks while improving their employees' IT skills.
Partner Laurence Moore said the Government was urging small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) to sign up to a scheme, which could also save them £10 million in national insurance contributions.
"From a business perspective, it's a very cost-effective way of improving skills and boosting productivity," said Mr Moore, whose own firm has already seen a 45 per cent take-up by staff wanting to buy PCs for home use.
"Besides extending the employee benefits package, staff become increasingly computer-savvy as they get more familiar with the latest technology in the comfort of their own home and develop valuable ICT skills they can use in the workplace.
"It provides the perfect opportunity for organisations to help improve workforce skills and save money at the same time.
"As technology and ITbased business becomes an ever bigger part of our economy, it is vital that the workforce develops the skills which will keep us competitive.
"That process should begin in the home so that everyone has to opportunity to become comfortable and competent with computers."
HCI is also partnering with training organisations to offer a wide range of training courses for smaller businesses which lack the resource to invest in structured staff training programmes.