The government is giving 20,000 disadvantaged kids in Suffolk and Oldham free PCs.

As part of the £300m 'Next Generation Learning' scheme, children aged seven to 18 will be given a grant to cover the purchase of a PC as well as software, one year's broadband access and three years' technical help.

To qualify for a grant under the year-long schemes, which start in February 2009, families must earn less than £15,500 per year or be on Income Support.

Schools Minister Jim Knight has also called for tech companies to offer cheap PC and software deals to all pupils aged seven to 18 in the two pilot areas.

Knight claimed this scheme was about providing computers for those who could not afford them but also promoting the benefits of IT and the internet. "There has to be a culture where families see home access is as important as making sure their children have pen, paper and calculator at school," he said.

Local authorities will also be entitled to funding under the scheme in a bid to offer computer and internet access to other children such as those in alternative education or those in care.