Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
Research from LV= travel insurance reveals three in ten (29 per cent) parents plan to take their children out of school for a family holiday this year, with most citing the price of trips during peak times as their reason for doing so.
The research saw 55 per cent of parents admitting 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 per cent of parents in 2004 to 21 per cent in 2012.
Rising holiday costs
The cost of a holiday is the biggest factor for the growing trend in parents removing their children from school. Over half 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 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 per cent cheaper than a holiday during the school holidays - the research found that the same family holiday in Spain could cost as much £888 more in the school holidays than it would during term-time.
Not surprisingly, more than four in 10 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 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.
Facing the fines
During 2011 the number of fines issued to parents for taking their children out of school for a term-time holiday rose by 60 per cent 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.
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."