Some parents using the Government's Childcare Vouchers scheme are wrongly being told they aren't also eligible for 30 hours of free childcare due to an HMRC website glitch.
Three and four-year-olds in England are entitled to 15 hours a week of free education, and many can get a further 15 hours if they and their parents meet certain criteria.
In addition parents can apply for EITHER of the schemes below:
- Tax-Free Childcare – A savings scheme designed so that for every £8 a parent pays in, the Government adds an extra £2. Parents can get up to £2,000 Government support per child per year towards their childcare costs (see full info).
- Childcare Vouchers – These are offered by employers to allow parents to pay towards childcare from their pre-tax salary, which can save over £1,000 a year (see full info).
But one mum has contacted MoneySavingExpert.com after trying to renew her 30 hours' free childcare, only to be told that she couldn't do this while claiming childcare vouchers, even though she had not applied for Tax-Free Childcare.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has told us that this information is wrong, and is looking into why the message appeared.
This glitch is the latest in a long list of problems with the Tax-Free Childcare website, including the roll-out to older children being delayed and parents being left out of pocket due to technical difficulties with the site.
What is the glitch?
MoneySaver Rebecca from Greater Manchester told us she'd previously successfully claimed the 30 hours' free childcare for her youngest child – having met all the criteria – and also claims childcare vouchers.
But when she tried to reconfirm her 30 hours' free childcare for the New Year on 29 December, her request was declined despite her not applying for Tax-Free Childcare.
A message appeared on screen telling her: "You won't be eligible if you're still using childcare vouchers."
Rebecca had to phone the HMRC helpline to solve the issue. Since then, two other parents have contacted us after experiencing similar issues.
What should I do if I have the same problem?
HMRC says if you receive this message and problems with renewing your childcare persist, you can call its helpline on 0300 123 4097.
On January 4, HMRC said they would be altering the text of the message within 24 hours, after admitting it was misleading.
It also told us that the message was appearing to parents who inadvertently clicked that they did not want to reconfirm their 30 hours of childcare.