Summer holiday costs and fines

17 February 2014

 Two fifths of parents would risk a fine and consider taking term-time summer holidays to save money

 New rules over fines for taking children away during term time have combined with higher prices during school holidays to squeeze parents’ finances


Parents are pushing back against inflated prices levied during school holidays, with more than two-fifths (41%) prepared to ignore the new rules on fines for taking children on term-time summer holidays, according to research from Halifax.

Pester power

Last September new rules were introduced making it harder for parents to get permission to take their children out of school in term time. A maximum fine of £60 per pupil per parent – rising to £120 if not paid within seven days – can now be charged, where refusal to pay could mean a fine of up to £2,500, and a possible jail sentence of up to three months.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of parents have signed petitions urging Parliament to look at the issue of travel companies raising their prices during school holidays, prompting MPs to table a debate in the House of Commons next week.

The parent trap

The research reports half of parents (50%) say the single most important factor affecting their choice of summer holiday destination is the cost, and nearly a quarter (23%) don’t think they will be able to go away on holiday this summer.

However, of the two fifths of parents who would risk a fine, more than half (53%) of these would consider going away in term time if they could save up to £750 on the total cost of a holiday to their favoured destination.

Nearly two fifths (39%) of these parents would risk a fine if they could make savings of up to £500, and 15% would even consider going away in term time if they could save £1-£250 – the cost of a fine for two parents with two children.

Paying for it

Almost one third (30%) of parents will pay for their summer holiday in one go out of savings, whereas 27% will use their current account, and 23% will pay for it with a credit card.

The number of children parents have appears to have an impact on how they pay for their holiday. While parents with one child are most likely to pay for their summer holiday using their current account (27%), those with two children are most likely to pay for it out of savings (37%), and those with 3 or more children were most likely to pay for in on credit card (36%).

Richard Fearon, Head of Halifax Savings, said:

“Parents’ finances are being squeezed; with the new rules on fines for taking children out of school during term time on one side and increased prices for holidays during the summer on the other. Some parents are prepared to risk a fine if they can get a cheaper holiday.

“Many families are working hard to build up their savings balances, and will be able to use this to pay for treats such as holidays. Being realistic about what you’re able to save and identifying what it’s intended for can help to make it easier to maintain a regular savings habit.”

Staycation or sun and sangria?

Among families who took a summer holiday in 2013, the UK was the most popular destination, with 28% staying on these shores compared to 27% who went to Southern Europe.

While the split between those staying in the UK or going to Southern Europe was evenly split among parents with one (26% UK and 26% Southern Europe) or two children (29% UK and 29% Southern Europe), 32% of families with three or more children stayed in the UK, with just 26% going to Southern Europe.

This summer more than a third (36%) of families are planning to go on holiday to Southern Europe, with just 29% staying in the UK. Southern Europe remains the most popular destination for families with one (37%) or two children (42%), although the UK remain the most popular destination for those with three of more children (31%) with just 20% of this group going away to Southern Europe.

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