HMRC faces probe on Childcare Service website failings

HM Revenue and Customs has been warned that it could be subjected to a probe into reported failings with a website that helps parents access government funding to help with childcare costs.

New Treasury Select Committee chair Nicky Morgan today published a letter to HMRC permanent secretary and chief executive Jon Thompson requesting core performance data on the Childcare Service website, which is run by the non-ministerial department.

The website is the main access point for the government’s Tax Free Childcare scheme, which offers up to £2,000 a year per child in support for parents, as well as provides details on entitlement to the government’s flagship pledge of 30 hours of free childcare.

But in recent months service users have complained of being effectively locked out of the site and directed to an error message saying: “We’re experiencing technical difficulties. We don’t know when the service will be available again. Please try again later.”

Some service users have said the issues have left them unable to access funding they need to pass on to nurseries, and caused them to incur late payment fines; others have complained about being unable to complete an application.

Concerns have also arisen in relation to HMRC’s ability to support service users seeking help to resolve the problems they encounter.

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