What you can do if you’re locked out of Government’s Tax-Free Childcare scheme

The Government's Tax-Free Childcare scheme is having problems

The Government’s new Tax-Free Childcare scheme launched at the end of April, aiming to make childcare easier for parents. But since its launch, parents and family members have struggled to get onto the website.

This means they’ve not been able to manage their accounts properly. And some parents have even been unable to access their money and risked fines from childcare providers.

If you’re a parent struggling with the Tax-Free Childcare scheme, don’t panic. Here’s how you can make sure it doesn’t end up costing you.

What’s the problem with the Tax-Free Childcare scheme?

The Tax-Free Childcare scheme has moved all Government childcare benefits to an online Childcare Services hub. This will supposedly make the process of applying for and paying for childcare simpler.

For every 80p parents save into their accounts towards childcare costs, the Government will add 20p. This is up to the value of £2,000 per child per year.

Parents and carers can then choose which approved childcare provider they want to use and pay them through the account. This should streamline the process of childcare, and also make it more affordable.

But ever since the scheme launched in April 2017, it has suffered from a raft of technical issues.

Some parents have money in their accounts but they’ve not always been able to get on to access this. Other parents and carers have been unable to apply for the tax-free benefits. As they can’t pay their nurseries or childminders, it’s possible they could risk fines.

And more than a month later, it’s clear that some parents are still having difficulties.

HMRC says that it is investigating any issues it sees. It also says that thousands of parents are signing up successfully every week. But if you still can’t get on to access your Tax-Free Childcare scheme account, this probably won’t help you.

How to avoid ending up out of pocket

So what can you do if you can’t get into the Tax-Free Childcare scheme? How can you make sure you don’t get a fine for not paying your childcare provider?

If you’ve got an account and you’re struggling to get hold of your cash, get in touch with HMRC. You can call them on their dedicated helpline at 0300 123 4097.

HMRC will let you pay childcare providers through their system over the phone. Of course, if the system is experiencing issues, there’s no guarantee that their staff will be able to access it when you ring.

According to HMRC speaking to Money Saving Expert, there are measures in place to ensure that no one using the system loses out. So if you experience any problems, make sure you keep a note of any money you’ve had to spend. When HMRC has fixed all of the issues, you can get in touch to get this back.