Computing benefit returns

National Grid, Airbus and Punch Taverns are among the employers offering staff access to a new version of the home computing initiative (HCI).

The initiative, brought in by the government in 2004 and then closed in 2006, is growing again as an employee benefit, albeit with fewer tax breaks.

Employers can offer the perk to staff via providers such as Let’s Connect and TracLine. Stephen Manister, director of Let’s Connect, said: “We have got about 60 clients ranging from employers with 15,000-plus employees down to about 2,000 employees.”

Under the scheme, employees pay for a computer or laptop over a three-year term, with the cost deducted monthly from their gross pay via salary sacrifice. In the previous scheme, employers enjoyed reduced national insurance contributions while employees received savings on the cost of the computer.

The new incarnation of the scheme follows its predecessor quite closely, but the tax treatment is different. Richard Morgan, director of consultancy at Vebnet, said: “Staff pay tax on 20% of the original value for each year they have the equipment.”

The latest scheme also includes access to Apple products, such as MacBooks, iMacs and iPads.

Read more on salary sacrifice arrangements