Hardware Access Scheme Relaunch
Following its temporary closure in July 2022, we have now reopened referrals of the Hardware Access Scheme and launched two new schemes alongside: the Connectivity Access Scheme and the Digital Support Scheme. All schemes are delivered by Kent County Council’s Digital Kent team and have to-date have provided over 2,500 devices to those in need county-wide. This is largely thanks to our referring partners, such as schools, social sector organisations, the Department for Work and Pensions and our borough and district council colleagues.
We have made it easier and quicker for referrers to make a referral into Digital Kent for an individual. We have streamlined the form and you can refer into multiple schemes on one form. Previously it took an average of ten minutes to complete the referral form (just for Hardware). Now, we have streamlined the form and you can refer into multiple schemes on one form – it now takes an average of eight minutes – with many forms being completed in less than three minutes.
Q1: What has changed with the Hardware Access Scheme?
The key principles of the scheme are unchanged – providing a ‘gifted’ laptop device to those beneficiaries that meet the eligibility and are approved, with no requirement to return the device. What has changed though is we have simplified the eligibility – making it quicker and easier to refer someone and have put a varying limit on the number of referrals that can be submitted in a week-rolling period.
Full details can be found here: Hardware Access Scheme
Q2: What is the eligibility?
We have changed the eligibility criteria from seven different pathways to three. The eligibility is applicable to the Hardware Access Scheme and Connectivity Access Scheme:
- A - To an individual who is in or at-risk of financial hardship (e.g. receiving UK state benefit).
- B - To an individual who is aged 4 to 18 (up to 25 with EHCP) in education or training and meet at least one of the additional criteria. The additional criteria are updated regularly and is available on the website. Generally, this could include being eligible for free school meals, is a young carer or have been identified as at-risk of becoming NEET.
- C - To an individual who is 16 to 18 (up to 25 with EHCP) not in education, employment or training and is actively engaged with Kent County Council’s NEET Support Service.
All beneficiaries must be digitally excluded and a resident of Kent, living in one of the twelve boroughs/districts. This excludes Medway residents.
For the Digital Support Scheme, individuals need to be 18 years old or over, digitally excluded and a resident of Kent, living in one of the twelve boroughs/districts (excluding Medway). Currently, for the Digital Support Scheme there are no additional age or circumstance criteria.
Q3: What is the limit on referrals?
To ensure that we can support as many people as possible from across the county with hardware and connectivity, we have introduced a maximum of number of referrals that can be made by any one professional during a rolling seven-day period. We will update this regularly on our website, but currently it is set as a maximum of ten referrals in a seven-day rolling period.
Q5: I would like to make several referrals, which exceeds the limit. What do I do?
If you make more referrals than the limit set. Those over and beyond the limit will be automatically declined. However, if you have more referrals than the current set limit – we ask that you get in touch with our team to discuss your requirements. You can do this by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q6: What is the Connectivity Access Scheme?
The Connectivity Access Scheme provides connectivity solutions (currently 4G routers) to eligible and approved beneficiaries. The cost of the router is covered, along with 12-months free data. The eligibility of the scheme is the same as the Hardware Access Scheme.
Full details about the Connectivity Access Scheme can be found here: Connectivity Access Scheme
Q7: What is the Digital Support Scheme?
The Digital Support Scheme matches individuals (18 years old or over) with a volunteer Digital Champion or a member of our Digital Kent team. The Digital Champion or Digital Kent team member will support the individual with digital skills, motivation and confidence. Currently, the support can only be provided by telephone, virtually (e.g. MS Teams) or in a public setting (e.g. local library).
Full details about the Digital Support Scheme can be found here: Digital Support Scheme
Q8: Can beneficiaries self-refer?
For the Hardware and Connectivity Access Schemes, beneficiaries cannot self-refer. This is to minimise abuse of the scheme. However, for the Digital Support Scheme beneficiaries can refer themselves.
Finally, to be kept informed with the most up to date information about our schemes and other projects we are delivering, please visit www.digitalkent.uk/information/projects. If you have any questions or queries relating to this or have any suggestions on how we can improve the scheme, please get in touch by emailing email@example.com.
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