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Problems with Childcare Service website continue

By Rachel Lawler

Parents using the government's Childcare Service website are still experiencing technical problems, months after problems were first reported with the site last summer. The continuing problems are reported as HMRC announces that its tax-free childcare scheme is now open to parents of children under the age of nine.
 
The problems have meant that some parents have been unable to move money out of tax-free childcare accounts and some have been unable to confirm their eligibility for the 30-hours offer. Some parents already using the 30-hours offer have reported being unable to reconfirm their eligibility ahead of the next term.
 
The government has said that the majority of parents using the site have not had any problems, with just 2% of users reporting difficulty with the site.
 
Alliance concerns
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said: "It's incredibly disappointing that the long-running problems with the government's Childcare Service still haven't been resolved."
 
"This is an IT system meant to support a flagship policy, and yet, more than eight months after its launch, we are still hearing reports of parents who cannot do the simplest things – from applying or re-applying for the tax-free childcare and 30 hours schemes, to simply accessing their online accounts.
 
"This is understandably causing much anger and frustration, something not helped by the government's insistence that all is fine with the website despite a wealth of evidence to the contrary.
 
"The government must get a grip on this problem once and for all, and ensure that the system it is asking parents to use is actually fit for purpose."
 
Delayed roll-out
Last year, HMRC announced that it was delaying the full roll-out of tax-free childcare. All parents were due to be able to join the scheme by the end of 2017 but technical problems meant that the roll-out was to be staggered by age group, with the full roll-out not due until March 2018.
 
Parents still having problems using the tax-free childcare service site are advised to contact HMRC's helpline on 0300 123 4097. 
 
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