Childcare scheme gets six-month reprieve after DUP intervention

From BBC - March 13, 2018

Ministers are to delay scrapping a system of childcare vouchers by six months after an intervention by the Democratic Unionist Party.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds made the concession during a Commons debate.

The employer-backed voucher scheme, used by up to 450,000 parents, was due to be closed to new entrants next month but will now have a temporary reprieve.

An alternative system of tax-free childcare introduced by the government has suffered a succession of problems.

Ministers announced in 2013 that the employee scheme - in which staff in participating companies can receive vouchers worth up to 55 a week in lieu of their salary - would effectively be replaced by a system in which parents have to open an online voucher account and have their payments topped up by the state.

But the new system, which provides support of up to 2,000 a year, has been beset with problems.

Because of glitches on the HMRC website, thousands have been unable to either set up tax-free accounts or access the money they had paid into them.

Those unable to access the tax-free childcare payments have been paid a total of 966,666 while nearly 40,000 in compensation has been paid to parents for inconvenience and expenses incurred.

'Far from perfect'


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