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Government childcare scheme extended, but glitches remain

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The government’s tax-free childcare scheme has been extended to parents whose youngest child is under nine, but parents are still reporting problems with the system.

The system helps working parents with the cost of childcare, providing they are earning below £100,000 each. The payments are worth up to £2,000 per child per year, or £4,000 for disabled children.

The scheme will open to all remaining eligible families with children under 12 on 14 February 2018.

The government said that more than 325,000 have applied and now use the service, with over 170,000 having a tax-free childcare account.

However, the BBC reports that thousands of parents are still struggling with the website, eight months after it was set up. They report that money for fees has been stuck in the childcare accounts, leaving bills unpaid.

The government said that fewer than 2% had encountered problems, and it had added resources to deal with earlier glitches. However, this doesn’t chime with reports from nursery and pre-school organisations, who said they have had to help parents resolve issues through repeated calls to the telephone helpline.

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