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Free computers to be used for training in deprived areas

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A government scheme is pumping money into providing web access to deprived homes in Liverpool so residents can access training and qualifications.

£500,000 will be spent on the pilot project to equip homes with recycled computers which will link to a community web, with access to government, job, health and education services. The scheme has come about as a result of the government's concerns about the 'digital divide', the gap between those with internet access and those without.

The Liverpool scheme will be followed by others around the country. In total, the government will spend £10 million on internet access in ten run down areas for all residents that want it. The scheme will run until 2002 and will be open to benefit claimants. LearnDirect will be playing a role in highlighting the scheme locally by operating a free national helpline (tel: 0808 0 100 900).

John Fisher, Chief Executive of Citizens Online, which is promoting internet access for all, says that despite these efforts, the digital divide is likely to remain. That Speaking in the Independent, he said that "a large group of people without the skills, training or inclination to get online, who will miss job opportunities or health advice others will take for granted."

It's likely that access problems will still exist in the form of financial access to the web, as purchasing goods and services is still primarily dependent on credit card use, something which poorer families often aren't able to obtain.

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