The clause establishes a gateway to allow information to be shared between HMRC and other bodies, to ensure that the scheme operates effectively and efficiently. The scheme will take full advantage of modern digital technology to ensure it is simple for parents to apply to and use the scheme. They will be able to register for the scheme via an online Government portal, and in the vast majority of cases will not be required to send in any documentary evidence to support their application. Again, the portal is being constructed to make it simple and quick for parents to access. The exchange of information between HMRC and other bodies will allow HMRC to validate parents’ applications seamlessly via automated system-to-system checks, ensuring that claims will take days rather than weeks to process. The clause makes that possible.
The information gateway is essential, to allow HMRC to check that the information received from parents is accurate and complete without putting in place additional burdens by requiring parents to provide supporting documentary evidence. It will also allow HMRC to check that child care providers are registered with the appropriate regulatory authority. Subsection (3) makes it clear that any information disclosed by HMRC must not be disclosed further without the consent of HMRC. That will ensure that a person’s information is protected if HMRC needs to share it with another body.
My hon. Friend the Member for Colchester, who is not here this afternoon, asked in the evidence sessions whether the scheme would have an impact on the child maintenance payment systems. There is a point to make about the information sharing power and the interactions between systems. Specifically on his comment about child maintenance payment systems, I confirm that there will be no impact on how liability is calculated in the scheme administered by the child maintenance service.
I reassure members of the Committee that the effective use of information is central to delivering an efficient and user-friendly service for parents in the right way, safeguarding information and using it only in the most appropriate way.