Troubled government Childcare Service website could face select committee probe

Written by Jim Dunton on 8 August 2017 in News
News

New chair of Treasury Select Committee Nicky Morgan requests performance data

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.” 


Related content


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.

In her letter to Thompson, committee chair Morgan asks for details of the number of successful applications for Childcare Service accounts and information on the number of users who have started applications but not returned to them for periods of a week or more, as well as on accounts that have been deactivated.

She is also calling for figures on the proportion of website users who receive error messages, the number of hours the website has been down since the beginning of April this year, and for details on the number of failed applications.

Additionally, Morgan wants to know a breakdown of calls to the service’s helpline, average waiting times, and numbers for abandoned calls.

She warned Thompson that information was being requested “in preparation for any potential Treasury Committee consideration of this matter”.

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

“To make matters worse, it appears that the Childcare Service helpline, for parents suffering problems with the website, is also experiencing technical difficulties.”

Last year MPs put HMRC through multiple grillings for failings with an outsourced fraud and error-checking service for tax credits that left significant numbers of people with their benefits suspended and a helpline service that was unable to cope with their remonstrations.

 

About the author

This story originally appeared on Civil Service World

Share this page

Tags

Categories

CONTRIBUTIONS FROM READERS

Please login to post a comment or register for a free account.

Related Articles

How to create a blockchain-powered digital nation
23 November 2018

Adopting the blockchain will help Scotland achieve its vision of becoming a fully digital nation and usher in an unprecedented era of economic growth, believes Neil McEvoy of DigitalScot.net

Full-fibre primary schools and the Mancunian skills gap – 10 tech announcements you may have missed in the Budget
31 October 2018

Although big-ticket technology announcements were largely absent from the chancellor’s speech, the Budget contained a number of initiatives and investments in digital and data

Related Sponsored Articles

Balancing security and digital transformation
26 October 2018

With the annual worldwide cost of cybercrime set to double from $3tn in 2015 to $6tn by 2021, BT offers advice on how chief information security officers can better protect their...

How the Internet of Things is revolutionising business
26 November 2018

BT thinks The Internet of Things is about to undergo a revolution. Over the past two decades, we've seen IoT tech evolve from a possibility, to a novelty, to an established tool that plays a vital...

Quantum cryptography and the future of security
19 November 2018

Quantum computers will soon make some of our strongest encryption useless. And that's where quantum cryptography comes in