HMRC Tax-Free Childcare service: service availability and issues

Planned downtime

Friday 13 October 2017 midday to Sunday 15 October 2017 midday

Due to a major upgrade, the childcare service will be unavailable from midday on Friday 13 October 2017 to midday on Sunday 15 October 2017.

We’re sorry for the inconvenience.

If you need help applying for Tax-Free Childcare or using your childcare service account, you can phone the childcare service helpline on 0300 123 4097.

Opening times:

  • 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday
  • 8am to 4pm Saturday
  • 10am to 4pm Sunday and bank holidays

Workers Forced To Skip Meals To Make Ends Meet Can’t Afford To Wait For Action

If you work hard, you should be able to feed yourself and your family. In 21st Century Britain, that shouldn’t be up for debate.

But a shocking new TUC/GQR poll shows that one in eight workers in this country are skipping meals to make ends meet. And 44% – almost half – are worried about meeting basic household expenses, such as food, transport and energy.

One in six have left the heating off when it was cold to save on energy bills and the same number have been forced to the pawnshop in the last year because they were short on money.

These numbers show us that working families are on a financial cliff edge.

Real wages have fallen in the ten years since the crash, but while pay packets are getting smaller prices and bills keep rising. As a result, working people are taking on more personal debt. Within the next five years, unsecured debt per household is set to hit record levels of over £15,000.

It doesn’t have to be like this. Across Europe, real wages have risen since the crash. In fact, Britain has suffered a bigger fall in real wages than any other advanced country apart from Greece.

And the problem is getting worse: real wages have fallen every month for the last four months.

For full article please see


Revenue’s crackdown on VAT evaders yields £3.4bn from small and medium firms.

Revenue & Customs collected an extra £3.4billion from small and medium-sized businesses in the tax year to April 2017 after a crackdown on firms that fail to pay VAT, according to tax investigation insurance company PFP.

VAT accounted for 49 per cent of the extra tax take from investigations into SMEs by the Revenue’s compliance teams. This was a higher proportion than the previous year, when it made up 45 per cent.

PFP said that as part of its crackdown on tax evasion, the Revenue is increasing pressure on SMEs.

Hunt: Officials scrutinise even tiny errors in tax returns

The long-term trend of high tax take from SMEs is likely to continue, as a small number of businesses look to avoid tax – putting those who make small mistakes on their tax returns under the Revenue’s scrutiny, it said.

The Revenue’s inquiries can be particularly costly, time-consuming and disruptive for SMEs, which may not have contingency plans in place to deal with a long tax investigation.

In order to avoid inquiries and fines from the taxman, SMEs must ensure they are fully compliant. PFP managing director Kevin Igoe said: ‘Over the years the Revenue has widened its net – cracking down on smaller businesses, as well as larger organisations.

‘It’s clear from the high tax take that the Revenue has found investigations into SMEs to be fruitful, and therefore it is likely that this focus on smaller organisations will continue. In order to avoid scrutiny, SMEs must make sure they are filing their returns correctly, so as not to incur a hefty fine.’

He added: ‘VAT can rake in a lot of extra revenue and therefore the taxman is prepared to use all means at its disposal. This will include the use of its Connect database and taskforces to identify those it suspects may be underpaying on their tax, as well as more aggressive tactics such as accelerated payment notices and property raids.’

PFP said that as of September 2016, the Revenue’s Connect software’s powers have been extended further still as it is granted access to files held by banks and other financial institutions based in British Overseas Territories.

The software was developed to access and trawl databases of personal and commercial financial information, in order to identify offenders.

Read more:

Job perks: Are these really what you want?

Free holidays

Who? Airbnb, Macildowie

Unlimited paid holiday leave

Who? Netflix, LinkedIn, Virgin Management

Egg Freezing

Who? Apple and Facebook

Bringing your dog to work

Who? Lots of employers, including Google and Mars Petcare


I am not sure how any of these would actually work as neither Virgin Management nor LinkedIn could provide figures of how many workers had taken up the perk of unlimited holidays.

Dogs are a regular fixture in the office for 8% of UK employees, according to research by Tech companies and pet-food firms are most likely to offer the perk.

Google is famously staffed by dog-lovers and the search engine even mentions the policy in its code of conduct, saying: “We like cats, but we’re a dog company, so as a general rule we feel cats visiting our offices would be fairly stressed out.”



Statistics Quotes

Statistics are no substitute
for judgement.

Henry Clay, Sr.
(1777 – 1852, American lawyer,politician and skilled orator)

Errors using inadequate data
are much less
than those
using no data at all.

Charles Babbage
(1791 – 1871, English polymath,inventor and mechanical engineer)

While nothing is more uncertain
than a single life,
nothing is more certain
than the average duration
of a thousand lives.

Elizur Wright 
(1804 – 1885, American mathematician,
“father of life insurance” for his
pioneering work on actuarial tables)

Facts are stubborn things,
but statistics are pliable.

Samuel Langhorne Clemens,
better known by his pen name Mark Twain 
(1835 – 1910, American author and humourist)

We must be careful
not to confuse data
with the abstractions
we use to analyse them.

William James 
(1842 – 1910, American philosopher and psychologist)

Statistics show
that of those
who contract the habit of eating,
very few survive.

George Bernard Shaw 
(1856 – 1950; Irish playwright)

Morrisons launches £3 wonky veg box that ‘can feed a family for a week’

The boxes contain about 4.2kg of vegetables, made up of eight seasonal varieties, including staples such as carrots, onions, potatoes and cauliflower, sourced from British growers.


Morrisons has launched a £5 veg box which it claims can feed a family of four for a week. Customers who don’t mind their vegetables “wonky” can buy a box for just £3, plus a delivery charge, of between £1 and £5.

Buying the wonky box has the added benefit of helping the environment by saving on food waste. Tonnes of vegetables which don’t match up to strict supermarket size and shape parameters are thrown away each year

Morrisons is going head-to-head with big-four supermarket rival, Asda, which recently launched its own box of misshapen vegetables for £3.50.

Aldi reports record sales but profits drop amid price war

Aldi has reported record sales in the UK and Ireland for last year but its profits have fallen sharply amid a fierce price war among supermarkets.

The German discounter said sales rose 13.5% to £8.7bn in 2016, but operating profit dropped 17%.

The chain blamed the fall on its “continued investment in prices and infrastructure”.

Aldi chief executive Matthew Barnes said its strategy was to offer “the lowest prices in Britain”.

“We’re doing everything we can to insulate customers from those cost increases, making sure our prices are the lowest in the UK, every day of the year,” he said.

Aldi, which currently has 726 stores in the UK, said it planned to open a further 70 this year and would invest a further £459m.

The German chain currently has a 6.9% share of the market, according to the latest industry figures from Kantar Worldpanel.

This figure makes it the fifth-biggest supermarket in the UK after Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons.

Money One Liners related to Family and Friends

Don’t marry for money;
you can borrow it cheaper.
Scottish Proverb

Money can’t buy you
true love.
It does however
put you in
a good bargaining position.

Since he lost
his entire fortune,
half of his friends
do not want
to know him anymore.
The other half
do not know it yet!

What leads
most people into debt?
Trying to catch up with people
who are already there.

What’s the best way
to get in touch
with your long-lost relatives?
Win the Lottery.

If you think
no one cares about you,
try missing
a couple of payments.

Money isn’t everything…
But it sure
keeps the kids in touch.

There are
three kinds of people.
Those who can count
and those who cannot.

PwC reveals black and Asian workers are paid 13% less

Black, Asian and minority-ethnic staff (BAME) who work at PwC in the UK earn almost 13% less than other employees, according to figures provided by the professional services firm.

The firm said its BAME workers were statistically paid less because more of them worked in administrative and junior roles, rather than senior ones.

PwC said it had published the data to help it speed up progress on the issue.

Currently reporting on BAME pay isn’t required under government regulations.

PwC said it hoped that publishing the data would help the firm to tackle “ethnicity challenges”.

“The more transparent we are with our diversity and social mobility data, the more we hold ourselves accountable to achieving real change,” said PwC chairman Kevin Ellis.

How a Chinese politician is using video video to promote tax scheme

I really cant see it catching on in England, and with good reason.

Hideo Higashikokubaru stars with a gymnast (R) and an alien sausage mascot (L)

An actor-turned-politician is promoting tax payments in a Japanese region through the medium of a bizarre video starring an “alien sausage” mascot.

Former comedian Hideo Higashikokubaru (also known as Sonomanma Higashi) appears in a promotional video for a new tax scheme with the bright red mascot called Sou Seiji.

Good luck with that!