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Parents fined £5m for taking kids on holiday during term time

Paloma Kubiak
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Paloma Kubiak

Parents were fined more than £5m for unauthorised term-time holidays in the 2014/15 academic year, shocking statistics have revealed.

Families hoping to save money by taking their kids on holiday before the schools have broken up for half term or summer have been fined an estimated £5.6m, new research from Santander UK reveals.

The number of fines increased to 92,784 in 2014/15 from the 24,853 in 2012/13 – up 273%. And the total fines were up from £1.5m in 2012/13 compared with the £5.6m in the 2014/15 year – a difference of 267%.

The research also found that Lancashire County Council issued the most fines in 2014/15 (4,279), followed by Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council (3,559) and Bradford Metropolitan Council (3,445).

The steep increase across the nation suggests parents are becoming more willing to risk a fine to take their children out of school to avoid the school holiday price hikes.

Further research by Santander found that parents can face school holiday premiums of up to 68%, adding an extra £1,771 to the cost of a family holiday.

On average, trips to some of the most popular overseas holiday destinations such as Spain, France and the USA are 21% more expensive for a family of four between 6–13 August during the school holidays, than between 9-16 July, just before schools break up for the summer.

What are the rules about taking kids out of school during term time?

The case of Jon Platt who won a High Court ruling in his favour after refusing to pay a £120 fine for taking his daughter on an unauthorised term-time holiday sparked much public interest and debate.

But the rules currently state that parents across England and Wales can face fines if they take their children out of school early without prior permission.

They’re fined £60 per parent per child per period of absence, which rises to £120 if not paid within 21 days.

Parents can appeal the fine but if it’s not paid within 28 days, they risk being prosecuted. If prosecuted, parents could be fined up to £2,500 and/or receive a community order or a jail sentence up to three months. The court will also issue a Parenting Order.

Other ways to save on summer holidays

As well as pulling children out of school early, 25% of parents choose to take a flight at an anti-social time, while 22% take their own food on flights to avoid paying a premium in the air.

Santander also found that 20% have taken items such as coffee, jars of food and washing powder with them to avoid buying the items abroad.

One in five Britons admit to taking food from the hotel breakfast to have for lunch.

Worryingly, 10% admit to not taking out insurance as a way to save cash, despite this having expensive consequences if a medical issue occurs, an item gets stolen or a flight gets cancelled.

Amanda Lamb, travel and property expert, said: “While summer holiday premiums can add an unnecessary expense to a family’s budget, there are other ways parents can look to reduce costs rather than taking a child out of school.

“Flying in the middle of the week rather than at the weekend can be cheaper as can waiting until the end of August or early September when prices are often lower as most people like to get away at the start of the summer holidays.”