Does fining parents work, or are the savings of a term time trip too attractive to ignore?

The end of term is nearly here again. For lots of families it’s holiday time as parents take advantage of the two-week break following the long Easter weekend.
By
Caroline Hawkings

March 28, 2018

For many parents, taking the kids away during the school holidays has become too expensive and the only option is to go during term time.

Local authorities are trying their best to stop this by fining parents.  But to what extent is this acting as a deterrent, if at all?

Figures reported in the media this week stated parents were fined a total of £24 million last year for children’s truancy.  The news stories also reported how it’s now accepted that parents even include the cost of fines in their holiday budgets.  It seems they are willing to accept fines because they can be significantly cheaper than the savings made by going away during term time.

According to the Morar HPI Consumer Compass survey** which includes the views of 400+ parents, 18% said they planned to take their children away during term time this year to get better prices.  

Looking a little deeper into the data, the numbers are highest in the South East and among the higher income groups.   The obvious conclusion is that these groups are more likely to take holidays, but perhaps it also points towards the more affluent parent being more savvy with how they use this type of discretionary spend.  If the ‘lifetime’ Florida trip, which will be more expensive than other options parents could go for in the holidays, is 30-40% cheaper in term time, then it’s worth the risk of a fine.   It’s a trade-off they are willing to make to get more for their money at a time when there’s still concern about finances and the future among the majority of consumers. 

Looks like we’ll be seeing millions again next year in fines, but chances are this figure will be considerably lower than the savings parents feel they have made by avoiding the school holidays.

Our specialist Home and Family division helps clients like Stagecoach, Argos and Sainsbury’s get close to the world of the family: how they shop, spend and save.  If you are interested in learning more please get in touch with Caroline Hawkings or leave a comment below.

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**Morar HPI Consumer Compass survey is a nationally representative online survey of 1,000 UK consumers conducted 3 times a year.  It measures the confidence of consumers and their behaviours and attitudes in terms of spending, saving and investing.

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