Blackpool parents hit with staggering £486k in fines for pupil absences as 'holiday penalties' set to rise

West Northamptonshire Council overspent by almost £6 million last year on the high needs block, which goes toward funding education provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities.
-Credit: (Image: Dave Thompson/PA Wire)


As holiday penalties are set to rise across the country, one area of Lancashire is issuing the highest number of penalties for unauthorised absences.

Since 2021, Blackpool Council has issued £486k worth of fines to parents for unauthorised pupil absences, with figures rising year on year. A 56% rise in the number of fines was issued to parents in Blackpool in the last three years, according to an investigation by LegalExpert using FOI requests.

However, the fines are looking to rise this year as from August, parents who take their children out of school and on holiday during term time, they could be slapped with a hefty £160 fine. Currently, unauthorised absences will cost families £60 which increases to £120 per child if it is not paid within 21 days, with a potential prosecution for non-payment of 28 days.

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In Blackpool, the fines skyrocketed by 56% in just 12 months, with £190,680 worth of fines. In the period 2021-22, 960 penalty notices were issued to parents for unauthorised absences, rising to 1,589 the following year. This year so far, 1,498 fines have been issued which totals £1,79,760. If parents do not pay their fines in time, they could be subjected to further action.

It includes an Education Supervision Order, Community Order or even a Jail Order. In Blackpool alone, 540 non-paid fines have resulted in further action in the last three years. In 2021-22, there were 107 unpaid penalties with further consequences - rising to 245 the following year. So far for 2024, unpaid fines with further action is at a total of 188.

It is yet to be known what the August rules will do to the statistics, as new guidelines will see fines of £160 for parents taking their children on holiday during term-time. A new national framework will also see schools considering fines when a child misses ten of more sessions, equating to 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%) are issued for term time holidays."

LegalExpert.co.uk has a team of experts at hand for anyone who has concerns about unauthorised absence fines. LancsLive has contacted Blackpool Council for comment.

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