Free Childcare Entitlement

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:48 pm on 6th September 2017.

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Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill Minister of State (Education) 12:48 pm, 6th September 2017

I thank my right hon. Friend for her question. This is indeed a manifesto pledge that is being delivered. It is no secret that there were some technical problems with the IT system and, indeed, my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary is in his place listening to what we say. About 1% of cases that applied online were stuck—that is, for a technical reason those cases were not processed. Another group of cases could not have been processed online, and we refer to those as amber cases. Let me give an example: a person who applies for childcare on the basis of a job offer rather than a track record of earning in that job. If we were not to have a manual system as back-up, we would have a Catch-22 situation in which the person could not apply for childcare because they did not have a job but could not get the job because they did not have childcare. In such situations, there is a manual system.

When the Secretary of State wrote to my right hon. Friend, I think 2,200 cases were stuck. The figure I now have is 1,500, but they are many new cases, some of which have only been on the system for about a week. I am sure that the Financial Secretary to the Treasury will write to my right hon. Friend with regards to compensation. A small number of people were affected by the system. The system was operational 93% of the time during which people could apply.