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Nicky Morgan demands answers on Childcare Service website problems

By Rachel Lawler
MP and Chair of the Treasury Select Committee Nicky Morgan has asked for answers from HMRC on the performance of its Childcare Service website.
 
The site is run by HMRC and allows parents to apply for both tax-free childcare and the 30-hours offer online. Since its launch in April, both parents and providers have reported technical difficulties when using it.
 
Technical difficulties

Common concerns include being unable to log in to the site, being told a parent is ineligible for the funding in error, or seeing a message that reads: “We are experiencing technical difficulties. We don’t know when the service will be available again. Please try again later.”
 
Morgan, who previously served as Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equality, has written to Jon Thompson, chief executive and permanent secretary of HMRC to ask for more detail on the technical difficulties – specifically, information on the duration of website outages, the number of complaints received, the number of people unable to access their Childcare Service account and the amount of compensation paid to those unable to use the site to pay providers.
 
In the letter, Morgan says: “It’s concerning that some parents have struggled to apply for childcare funding due to technical issues with the government’s Childcare Service website. To make matters worse, it appear that the Childcare Service helpline, for parents suffering problems with the website, is also experiencing technical difficulties.”
 
"Simply not acceptable"

Neil Leitch, chief executive at the Alliance, said that it was “simply not acceptable” that families are still experiencing difficulty using the Childcare Service website and welcomed Nicky Morgan’s intervention.
 
Neil said: “The government has claimed that working families could benefit from thousands of pounds of savings as a result of the tax-free childcare and 30-hours offers, but of course, for that to happen, the IT system underpinning both schemes has to actually work. Indeed, the recent 30-hors pilot evaluation report explicitly stated that the effective implementation of the Childcare Service system was vital for the policy to have any chance of succeeding.