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A 'fine' time for a family holiday

Press release: 26/04/2012

  • Three in ten (29%) parents plan to take children out of school for a holiday this year
  • Term-time holidays cost 46% less then comparable trips taken during the school holidays[1]
  • Fines for taking children out of school during term-time increased by 60% last year

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 [2] 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.

This table shows the cost of comparable term-time holidays versus trips taken during the school holidays:

Holiday package

Price for a week during term-time

Price for a week during summer holiday

Price difference £

Price difference %

Family holiday in Spain





Family holiday in Disneyland, Florida





Family holiday in Greece





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 [3]. 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."

Notes to editors:

The research was conducted by ICM research. ICM questioned 2,000 parents during March 2012.

In addition to this all 153 local authorities in England were asked for the number of fines paid out by parents due to holidays taken during term time in 2010 and 2011.

  1. Holiday price averages calculated using prices from Thomas Cook, Thompson and First Choice for Spain and Greece, and Thomas Cook, Thompson and Expedia for Florida. Prices based on two adults sharing one room with two 10 year olds at the Flamingo Oasis Hotel, Benidorm, Spain, Disney's All-Star Movies Resort, Florida and the Princess Hotel in Rhodes, Greece. Prices are all-inclusive and include flights. Term time prices were based on seven days with a departure from London Gatwick on 16 June, summer holiday prices were based on seven days with a departure from London Gatwick on 4 August.

  2. According to the ICM research 21% of parents took a term time holiday in 2011, 19% in 2010, 15% in 2009, 12% in 2008, 10% in 2007, 10% in 2006, 9% in 2005 and 7% in 2004.

  3. All 154 councils were contacted to determine the number of fines given to families for taking holidays during school term time. Of these, 73 came back with comparable figures for the past three years and 41 were unable to breakdown their figures by school holiday unauthorised absences. The other 40 councils have not yet provided the data. According to this data among 73 councils 5,148 fines took place in 2008-2009, 8,084 in 2009-2010 and 12,957 in 2010-2011.

About LV=

LV= employs over 5000 people and serves around five million customers with a range of financial products. We are the UK’s largest friendly society and a leading financial mutual.

When we started in 1843 our goal was to give financial security to more than just a privileged few and for many decades we were most commonly associated with providing a method of saving to people of modest means. Today we follow a similar purpose, helping people to protect and provide for the things they love, although on a much larger scale and through a wide range of financial services including insurance, investment and retirement products.

We offer our services direct to consumers, as well as through IFAs and brokers, and through strategic partnerships with organisations such as ASDA, Nationwide Building Society and a range of trades unions.

LVFS is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority, register number 110035. LVFS is a member of the ABI, the AFM and ILAG. Registered address: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF.