Peers stung taxpayer for nearly £100k of laptops and iPads to work from home

PEERS stung the taxpayer for nearly £100,000 of laptops and iPads to work from home during the pandemic.

But thousands of children are still waiting on theirs to do their lessons.

Parliament dished out 111 pricey devices to House of Lords members.

Peers also claimed for five webcams, three monitors, five laptop chargers, three ethernet cables and a docking station too.

And 38 claimed £200 each for a printer too – which totalled £6,251.67.

It came as it emerged that 500,000 of 1.3million cheaper laptops promised to needy pupils had not arrived.

Ministers have vowed 1.3million devices will be dished out to disadvantaged kids after Boris Johnson shut schools at the start of the month.

800,000 have been handed out to schools so far, on top of the stock they already have.

Ex-Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said: “The rapid speed and scale at which the Government have provided technology for Parliamentarians to work from home contrasts massively with the sluggish and utterly half-hearted approach they’ve taken to giving our young people the resources they need to keep pace with their studies.

“Yet again the Government have got their priorities completely wrong.

“Our children are our country’s future – they deserve better than this.”

And Labour’s Siobhain McDonagh said: “The House of Lords understands what everyone does – that everyone in a pandemic needs access to the right kit.

“Why is it that Gavin Williamson and the Government the same urgency isnt needed for children?”

And Steve Chalke, founder of the Oasis Trust, appealed to peers to send any spare laptops or devices to kids in need and branded the staggering amounts spent as “bizarre”.

He told The Sun: "If we really do believe as the Prime Minister says that education is our number 1 priority then we have to keep a continuity of education for every young person, we need every laptop there is going to the front line. 

"I would've thought that if you are in the House of Lords you have already got a laptop – it would be a wonderful gesture if any Lord receiving another one were to donate it to a school." 

He said trying to learn from home without a laptop is like being without running water, depriving children of the "wealth of knowledge" available to them on the internet.

Government sources said 200,000 devices had been handed out to needy kids in the last 10 days alone, and stressed there was huge demand on devices during the pandemic.

The Department for Education said 97 per cent of secondary school kids had received the laptops they requested – and allocation is now open for primary schools to put in their requests.

It came as fresh figures showed a sharp hike in the number of kids in school during lockdown.

More than a fifth of primary school pupils in England were in school in person last week, new Government data revealed.

Attendance is 14 per cent of state school pupils – higher than during the first lockdown where on-site attendance was just four per cent in primary schools and one per cent in secondary schools.

It comes after ministers confirmed that kids who didn’t have a laptop or who couldn’t work from home were told they were allowed to come in as they were deemed vulnerable – thought to have given a boost to the figures.

A spokesman for the House of Lords said last night: "The House of Lords provides the necessary IT equipment for Members to do their job.

"This is no different to many other workplaces.

"The move to hybrid and virtual proceedings means many Members are now holding the government to account remotely, in line with public health guidance, and a number will have required extra IT equipment to do that."

Equipment such as laptops, headsets and iPads have been essential tools to allow Members to ask 440 oral questions to Government, hold more than 600 Committee meetings and discuss 2,200 changes to legislation since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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