Gordon Brown is releasing plans of a £300m scheme that will provide broadband Internet access, software and computers to low income families.
The means-tested "Educational Technology Allowance" voucher scheme will see a million of the poorest families receiving between £100 and £700 to help plug the gap of the approximately 1.4 million children who do not currently have access to a broadband connection at home. The scheme is to be piloted in two local authority areas late this year with a view to roll out across England in 2010 and 2011. Families in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland will have to hold out to see if their local authorities will roll out a similar scheme without the backing of the central UK government. There doesn't appear to be any plans within this to help fill the gap where broadband isn't available, either due to being too far from the local exchange, or the exchange not being enabled, so it could be those that need support may still not benefit.
The scheme is to last for 3 years. Whether a new scheme will be announced to coincide with the end of this is unknown, particularly as a different political party may be in power then. Some may question how useful it will be to the poorest families who may then be faced with higher charges for keeping what will hopefully be by then, faster broadband services, particularly if they have come to rely on it.