Childminders unpaid after technical glitch
Families Chaos at the government’s tax-free childcare scheme means many have gone unpaid, writes
Childminders across the UK were left unpaid this week following a technical glitch at the government’s tax-free childcare scheme, which meant some were up to £1,000 out of pocket.
Iona, a childminder, tweeted: “Take parents’ money but don’t pay providers, leaving us overdrawn! Told nothing you can do, just hold tight a couple more days! Government going to pay parents’ late fees? And my bank charges?”
The problems relate to a highprofile scheme introduced last year where parents of under-12s can open an online account and get up to £2,000 a year for each child to help with childcare costs (see right).
The delays of a week or more reportedly resulted in some childminders going into the red, and could also potentially mean some parents are hit with late payment fees from their childcare provider.
Reports emerged on social media that the payments system crashed or suffered a malfunction during the week beginning 29 October – resulting in many providers not being paid.
On Monday, freelance journalist Felicity Hannah tweeted: “The taxfree childcare system ‘went down’ last week and payments have not been made. My childminder has been left without her money and I didn’t even receive a notification. Helpline says it’s being flooded with calls regarding this issue.”
Meanwhile, childminder Tracey says she had been left in the dark about when the problems would be sorted out, adding: “I’m owed over £1,000 from three parents which, as you can imagine, has left me massively in the red.”
Parent Kerry says that her childminder received a message about issues with payments. She had paid her childminder on 31 October, but the money had only just landed.
On Tuesday, HM Revenue & Customs said it had “identified an issue which has resulted in delays to some tax-free childcare payments”. It added: “We apologise for the inconvenience this has caused to parents and providers.” It went on to say that the affected payments have now been processed, and providers should have received their money on 7 November.
However, Neil Leitch, the chief executive of educational charity the Pre-school Learning Alliance, says there are lots of unanswered questions, such as how many providers and parents were affected, what financial impact has this had, and will HMRC guarantee providers who lost out will be compensated?
He adds: “The tax-free childcare scheme has struggled with technical issues since it was rolled out, often meaning many parents and providers have had to spend inordinate amounts of time on the phone to the helpline to do the simplest of tasks.”