Monday 7 August 2017

HMRC's Childcare Service Failings

In June I noted that the private details of a number of childminders, including home addresses, have been published in error on HMRC’s Childcare Service website.

The details, which have since been removed from the website (which providers and parents must access for Tax-Free Childcare and the 30 hours) appeared on its 'Search for a Childcare Provider' page, despite the fact childminders had not given their permission for the data to be published.

It seems that this site has other issues as well.

Parents are required to use the dedicated HMRC website, which went live in April, to apply for the 30 hours and tax free childcare (TFC) schemes. CCH Daily reports that problems include an inability to verify the details of parents or their child, or salary information, and parents being locked out of their TFC accounts.

Nicky Morgan, chair of the Treasury committee and former education secretary, has written to HMRC head Jon Thompson, requesting detailed information on the issue.

This includes the proportion of website users receiving error messages, including the message ‘We’re experiencing technical difficulties. We don’t know when the service will be available again. Please try later.

Morgan is also seeking information about the dates and times of outages since the system went live in April, the number of complaints to the helpline, and how long it has been taking to respond to calls.

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.

I have written to Jon Thompson at HMRC, which runs the website, to ask for further information, such as the duration of outages, the number of complaints, and the number of people who have been unable to access their childcare service account."
HMRC appear to be relaxed over the problems, as per its spokesman:
"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.

Parents and providers experiencing difficulties or needing technical support can phone the childcare service helpline on 0300 123 4097."
The question is, does reality fit with HMRC's view of its "progress"?

Tax does have to be taxing.

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1 comment:

  1. No, but this should not surprise those educated about HMRC 'ways. Meanwhile, Helen Ghosh, formerly of HMRC Senior Management is causing a right fuss at the National Trust with her treatment of volunteers at Felbrigg Hall. So typical of my memories of HMRC Senior Management generally - lots of virtue signalling, lots of making all the right noises about diversity but at the same time presiding over a culture of bullying, law breaking, dishonesty and enabling their human resources to be treated worse than sewerage. Hypocritical is a polite word to describe them