Parents are being fined for taking their children out of school without permission during terms times. This has led to local and national media coverage for parents who have been fined, in their eyes unfairly and raised the matter to a national debate.
In Shropshire alone, 900 fines have been issued to parents totaling £50,000. The fine of £60 per child was increased to £120 per child in 2013.
For holiday let owners this new policy has implications for occupancy and revenue. The net effect is to funnel demand for family holiday accommodation down to fewer weeks in the summer – in effect the six weeks of late July and August.
Not only does this restrict availability, it also pushes prices higher for those weeks when families can travel.
The government argue that children’s education suffers from absence and it can be disruptive for the rest of the class. On the other side, parents argue that one week out of school, typically in June or July and avoiding key exam periods, does not affect the child’s education.
So it is difficult to see who benefits from this new policy. Holiday let owners face the risk of reduced demand and empty weeks in June and July when families cannot travel. And families will ultimately pay more and have less choice.
The policy was championed by Michael Gove, who recently left his post as Education Secretary, though there is no suggestion the policy will be reviewed. In the meantime a campaign to reverse the policy has attracted over 200,000 signatures.