The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has thrown its weight behind the campaign to establish an alternative to the now defunct Home Computing Initiative (HCI).
As CRN went to press, the DTI was holding a meeting with various IT industry representatives, charities and other government departments, including the Treasury, to discuss options.
The move appears to be a U-turn from the government, which hammered the final nail into the coffin of HCI in May when it defeated last-ditch attempts to save the scheme from abolition (CRN, 8 May).
Speaking exclusively to CRN, Adrian Goodall, senior e-business policy advisor at the DTI, responsible for HCI, told CRN: “We’ve called the meeting to see if there are any ideas of how we could move HCI forward.
“Any scheme obviously won’t be called HCI. It would have to take into account the elderly, low-paid and unemployed groups because these are the groups the Treasury said HCI did not target. To keep Gordon Brown happy, it would also need to target the abuse of the original HCI scheme.”
However, many HCI resellers have already begun setting up their own alternative schemes.
Trevor Finlay, group managing director of reseller Club IT, told CRN: “We believe our scheme is a suitable alternative to HCI, but it would be great to have official endorsement from the government.”
Martin Prescott, former managing director of HCI reseller Red PC, has set up a new business called the Home Training Initiative (HTI).
“I’m dying to launch HTI, but people keep telling me to wait and see what the government comes up with,” he said. “I’m also willing to share my solution with everyone so that we can have a unified alternative to HCI.”
Rod Barthet, sales director at Siemens Financial Services, said: “If resellers start setting up their own alternative schemes, it will create real confusion and could lead to further abuse.”
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