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BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, has welcomed the government's plan for 270,000 free laptops and broadband connections to be given to low-income households.

Ian Ryder, Deputy Chief Executive at the institute, said the organisation approved of any attempt to help families on low incomes become active digital citizens.

He said being able to shop or pay your bills online, or check what your child's homework is for the week via a home computer, is "a real benefit" being enjoyed by millions of people.

However, many households are still missing out on such privileges, Mr Ryder noted.

He added: "Our recently launched Savvy Citizens programme is wholly aimed at helping all citizens benefit from our information society and ensuring families are equipped and able to get online is a necessary but difficult step at a national level.

"We applaud the government's efforts to do this through this [free laptops] scheme."

Last week, TalkTalk's Executive Director of Strategy and Regulation Andrew Heaney commented that the initiative was evidence of "deeply muddled" thinking, in view of the fact that many other households are working hard to pay for broadband.

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