Parents Have Difficulty Accessing Extended Entitlement
A survey by campaigning group, Pregnant then Screwed, suggests some parents are having severe difficulties accessing the extended entitlement to funded hours. The entitlement, which was announced by the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt in March, is intended to ultimately extend funded paces to all children of working parents, aged between 9 months and 5 years, although it is being rolled out gradually. The first registrations of places are now happening, with children aged 2 years being entitled to 15 funded hours from April.
Unfortunately, all has not gone entirely smoothly, with parents reporting difficulties accessing online portals to receive their access codes, being sent in circles through a myriad of government web pages and waiting for hours on helplines before being cut off. Ultimately, Pregnant then Screwed’ survey found that out of over 6,000 respondents, just 11% had successfully received their code! There have also been signs that the capacity required to deliver the entitlement is not yet in place, with 45% of parents currently unable to find a provider that will accept a code for the new scheme.
Responding to the survey, and complaints brought by the sector, the government has announced a potential workaround, at least to the issue of supplying parents with codes. A DfE Spokesperson said: “A pre-existing feature in the tax-free childcare system, where parents reconfirm their eligibility every three months, is impacting a minority of parents when combined with a small number of providers who are asking for codes much earlier than April.
“Parents who can’t reconfirm online until the second half of February or March will therefore automatically receive a letter with a code from HMRC before the middle of February, without needing to take any action.”