TERM-time holiday penalties are set to rise as Halton Borough Council issues more than £80k worth of fines to parents.

Since 2021, the rise in unauthorised absences for pupils attending schools in the borough has seen a dramatic increase.

 An investigation by Legal Expert has revealed a 23 per cent increase in the number of fines issued to Halton parents in the last three years.

What’s more, the council confirmed there was more than 500 instances where further action was taken following non-payment of the fine.

These cases were sent to the Education Welfare System (EWS) for prosecution. 

Parents who flout the rules of term-time holidays could be hit with hefty fines of £160 if they take their child out of school from this August.

As it stands, unauthorised absences can see parents slapped with a £60 fine which increases to £120 per child if it is not paid within 21 days with a potential for prosecution for non-payment of 28 days. 

In Halton, the number of fines issued by the council rose by 23 per cent in just a 12-month period with £35,040 worth of fines issued between 2022/23.

Meanwhile, between 2021/22, 751 penalty notices were issued to parents for unauthorised absences.

This year so far, 432 fines have been issued - Legal Expert has found. 

Parents who don’t pay the fine in time can be subjected to further action which could include an Education Supervision Order, Community Order or even jail. 

In Halton, there have been 534 non-paid fines in the last three years that resulted in referrals to the EWS for prosecution.

In the same time period, there were 906 instances where the fine was not paid within 21 days - that’s 43 per cent of all penalty issues since 2021.

Parents are being warned this year as fines are set to increase from this August.

The hike will come along with a new national framework which will require schools to consider fines when a child misses ten or more sessions (five days) without permission.

According to the Department of Education, ‘fines are a last resort, and parents will be offered support to help improve their child’s attendance first’.

However, it does admit that ‘the vast majority of fines for unauthorised absence (89 per cent) are issued for term time holidays’.

Commenting on the rise of unauthorised absences in the area, a Halton Borough Council spokesperson said: "The local authority values school attendance and works in line with guidance and legislation published by the Department for Education. 

"Our Education Welfare Service works closely with schools across the borough to improve school attendance and we use all options available to us to ensure every child achieves the best possible outcomes. 

"As a Priority Education Investment Area, Halton is also working closely with the DfE to reduce the number of children who are persistently absent. We are doing this through the appointment of School Attendance Support Officers who engage with families and school leaders."