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A ‘fine’ time for a family holiday

26th April 2012 Print

More parents are taking their children on holiday during term-time as the price of trips during peak times mean families cannot afford to travel.

Research from LV= travel insurance reveals three in ten (29%) parents plan to take their children out of school for a family holiday this year, with the majority (66%) of these doing so during the summer term (April - July). Over half (55%) of parents admit to taking their child out of school for a term-time getaway in the past and this has increased year on year since 2004 when fines were introduced to deter parents from allowing children to miss school - from 7% of parents in 2004 to 21% in 2012.

The cost of a holiday is the biggest factor for the growing trend in parents removing their children from school. Over half (57%) of parents who are planning to take their children out of school for a holiday say they do so because it is cheaper and one in three (32%) say they feel forced to travel during off-peak times as they cannot afford to go away during the school holidays.

The cost of a family holiday during term-time is up to 46% cheaper than a holiday during the school holidays and more than four in 10 (43%) parents say they are willing to incur a fine as the cost of the penalty is far outweighed by the money they save by holidaying off-peak.

Yet it is not just the cost of peak-time holidays that is driving this trend. A quarter (26%) of working parents say they face stiff competition from their work colleagues to take time off during the school holidays, leaving them no choice but to remove their children during the school term for a family break.

During 2011 the number of fines issued to parents for taking their children out of school for a term-time holiday rose by 60% compared to 2010, with each council issuing 177 fines on average. The highest numbers of fines for term-time absences were given in Kent (1,969), Luton (1,086) and Waltham Forest (707) last year. Penalties for taking children out of school during term-time look set to rise to £60 following proposals published earlier this month. This will double to £120 for those who do not pay within 28 days and the money will be taken from child benefit if not paid by the parents.

One in five (20%) parents have sought their school's permission for a term-time holiday and been refused and one in eight (12%) admit they have fibbed to take their children out of school for a holiday. The most common excuses include pretending their child is sick (35%), visiting ill relatives (20%), a family wedding (18%) and a trip for educational purposes (16%).

Selwyn Fernandes, managing director of LV= travel insurance, said "The difference in price for taking a trip during the school holidays and during term-time is huge. It is not surprising that so many parents are willing to risk a fine of £60 when they can save ten times that by holidaying outside of the peak season. If something goes wrong on holiday it can be very expensive to put right and it is important that families don't scrimp on travel insurance and leave themselves at risk."

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