Clause 42

Part of Childcare Payments Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:45 am on 28 October 2014.

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Photo of Priti Patel Priti Patel The Exchequer Secretary 9:45, 28 October 2014

Clauses 42 to 47 contain the remaining penalty provisions for the new scheme. This is a good opportunity to describe them in greater detail. For the time being, I would like to say that it is essential, as we have discussed, to have a robust regime of sanctions and penalties to deter those who attempt to abuse the scheme. Government amendments 21 and 22 will make minor technical changes to clauses 42 and 44. I emphasise again that we anticipate that the vast majority of parents will not be affected by the clauses, as there is no reason to suppose that they will do anything to warrant HMRC taking action against them.

Clause 42 allows HMRC to charge a penalty of up to £300 where someone fails to provide information or documents. Clause 43 allows HMRC to charge a greater penalty of up to £3,000 where someone provides information or documents that are inaccurate, whether they do that deliberately or are going out of their way to misinform HMRC.

Clause 44 enables HMRC to impose a penalty on someone who repeatedly uses the funds in their child care account for any purpose other than qualifying child care. As the Committee will recall, that is referred to in the Bill as a prohibited payment and the value of that penalty is 25% of the total value of the prohibited payments that have been made. Clause 45 sets out the penalties applying when someone obtains a top-up payment dishonestly. It allows HMRC to impose a civil penalty in cases where it does not pursue a criminal prosecution.

Clause 46 sets out how HMRC may assess and notify any penalty to which a person becomes liable under the scheme, and those penalties must be paid. Clause 47  simply ensures that a person will not be liable to any sanction or penalty in relation to the scheme where they have already been convicted of a criminal offence for the same conduct.

I have touched on Government amendments 21 and 22, which make minor changes respectively to clauses 42 and 44. They ensure that all the clauses work properly in all cases where parents make late appeals.