Glitches with key free childcare website probed

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Concerns about technical problems with the website parents in England have to use to apply for help with childcare have been raised with the government.

Many parents have struggled to register on Childcare Choices, which offers access to two brand-new childcare schemes.

Nicky Morgan, who currently chairs the Treasury Committee, has demanded answers coming from the boss of Revenue & Customs, which runs the website.

HMRC apologised for the inconvenience, saying which had much better the website.

however nursery providers fear which could further jeopardise the success of the schemes.

Parents first reported glitches while using the website in mid-May – just weeks after which was made live.

‘Nightmare’

The website will be the key way in which parents access help with two brand-new government-funded childcare schemes:

  • the tax-free childcare scheme
  • the offer of 30 hours’ free childcare for all three- in addition to four-year-olds

One mother, writing within the Financial Times, said things kept going wrong no matter what time of day or night she logged on.

Another tweeted: “I am having a nightmare with the 30 hours’ free childcare application.”

Mrs Morgan wrote to permanent secretary Jon Thompson asking numerous questions about the issue.

“which’s concerning which some parents have struggled to apply for childcare funding, due to technical issues with the government’s childcare service website,” she said.

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“To make matters worse, which appears which the childcare service helpline, for parents suffering problems with the website, will be also experiencing technical difficulties.”

Mrs Morgan asked for information about:

  • the length of time the website had been out of service
  • the number of people unable to access their childcare service accounts
  • the number in addition to nature of complaints
  • details of problems with the helpline attached to the website

An HMRC spokesman said: “We know which some parents in addition to childcare providers have experienced difficulties accessing the service, in addition to we are sorry about the inconvenience.

“We’ve currently made significant improvements based on customer feedback, in addition to on average more than 2,000 parents are applying successfully every single day.”

“We continue to make updates to improve the customer experience in addition to ensure everyone can easily access their account.

“Parents in addition to providers experiencing difficulties or needing technical support can phone the childcare service helpline on 0300 123 4097.”

‘Let down’

however the Pre-School Learning Alliance said which was not acceptable which so many parents were still struggling to actually use the system.

Chief executive Neil Leitch said: “The government has claimed which working families could benefit coming from thousands of pounds of savings as a result of the tax-free childcare in addition to the 30-hour offers, however of course, for which to happen, the which system underpinning both schemes has to actually work.

“Indeed, the recent 30-hour pilot evaluation report explicitly stated which the effective implementation of the childcare service system was vital for the policy to have any chance of succeeding.”

National Day Nurseries Association chief executive Purnima Tanuku said: “With the rollout of the government’s 30 hour funded childcare places coming from 1 September, some parents are getting worried which they won’t even be able to access their places in time because they are being let down by the which system.

“HMRC must ensure they resolve problems with the website as a matter of urgency in addition to reassure parents in addition to providers.”


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