HMRC has offered compensation to parents affected by the technical issues with tax free childcare when the service first launched in April, and is considering refunding costs caused by delays and mistakes due to the service not working as planned
Individuals affected by the website failures may be able to get a government top-up as a one-off payment for tax-free childcare.
Parents are eligible for these payments if they have been unable to complete an application for tax-free childcare; been unable to access their account; or not received a decision about whether they are eligible without explanation, for more than 20 days.
In order to make a claim individuals must send HMRC their full name, home address, National Insurance number, a description of the issues faced, bank details, and copies of receipts for payments to their childcare provider.
If an individual is eligible for compensation, HMRC will contact them and make a payment directly to their bank account.
Since April 2017, when the childcare service launched, IT glitches and other problems have prevented some parents from making claims. Reported problems include an inability to verify the details of parents or their child, or salary information, and parents being locked out of their accounts.
During the technical issues, users received the message ‘We’re experiencing technical difficulties. We don’t know when the service will be available again. Please try later.’
Nicky Morgan, chair of the Treasury committee and former education secretary, has previously written to HMRC head Jon Thompson, requesting detailed information on the issue. Morgan said: ‘It’s concerning that some parents have struggled to apply for childcare funding due to technical issues with the government’s childcare service website.
‘To make matters worse, it appears that the childcare service helpline, for parents suffering problems with the website, is also experiencing technical difficulties.’
In response to Morgan’s letter, an HMRC spokesperson said: ‘We know that some parents and childcare providers have experienced difficulties accessing the service, and we are sorry about the inconvenience.
‘We’ve now made significant improvements based on customer feedback, and on average more than 2,000 parents are applying successfully every single day. We continue to make updates to improve the customer experience and ensure everyone can easily access their account.’
HMRC’s Childcare Service compensation form is available here.