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Parents offered compensation after Childcare Service technical issues

By Rachel Lawler
 
HMRC is offering some parents compensation after continuing problems with the government's Childcare Service website.
 
The website has experienced several technical issues since its launch earlier this year. The problems have left a number of parents unable to access both tax-free childcare and the 30-hours offer, which are both managed through the website. Some parents are said to have been locked out of tax-free childcare accounts, while some have wrongly been told that they are not eligible for the 30-hours.
 
Providers have also experienced problems with the site, including a technical glitch that saw childminder data, including home addresses, wrongfully shared online.
 
Compensation claims
Parents may be eligible for a one-off top-up from the government if they have been:
  • unable to complete an application for tax-free childcare
  • unable to access a childcare account
  • left without a decision on whether they are eligible, without explanation, for more than 20 days.
The government says that it will also consider refunding “reasonable costs” caused directly by problems using the service, mistakes or delays.
 
The update comes shortly after MP and chair of the Treasury Select Committee, Nicky Morgan wrote to HMRC’s chief executive about the problem.
 
Inadequate investment
Neil Leitch, chief executive at the Alliance, welcomed the government's offer of compensation for those who have lost childcare support as a result of problems using the Childcare Service website. He said: "It was the government's responsibility to ensure the site was fit for purpose prior to being launched, and it's incredibly worrying that these issues weren't picked up during testing."
 
"Ulimately, this situation demonstrates what happens when you do not invest adequately in an ambitious project and it is hard not to draw parallels with the 30-hour offer," Neil added. 
 
How to claim
To make a claim, parents are being asked to send Childcare Service at HMRC a brief description of the problems experienced along with copies of any receipts for payments to childcare providers, their full name and address, National Insurance number and bank account details.
 
Those who are eligible for compensation will receive payments directly into their bank account.
 
The deadline for getting a 30-hours code for use in September is 31 August. Those who are still experiencing problems accessing their code are advised to contact HMRC on 0300 123 4097.
 
More information
Read our parents’ guide to 30-hours online here
 
Read our providers’ guide to 30-hours online here