The Liberal Democrats will allow families to take term-time holiday as figures reveal that fines for absences in the North West have reached record levels.
Statistics from the Department for Education (DfE) reveal more than 5,000 fines have been issued to parents in Manchester over the last year, rising to more than 45,000 in the North West – higher than anywhere else in the country.
The Liberal Democrats have pledged to give headteachers more flexibility to grant term-time absences, saying it is “fundamentally unfair that families are being slapped with a fine because they want to take their children on holiday”.
According to the DfE, the total number of fines for unauthorised absence across England was up nearly 75% in a year, from 149,300 in 2016/17 to 260,900 in 2017/18. 85% of these penalty notices were issued for unauthorised family holidays in term-time.
In Manchester 5,349 (7.3%) fines were issued last year with 45,645 (4.8%) in North West making it the highest of any region in the country.
Liberal Democrat spokesperson Greg Stanton said:
“It is no surprise that the North West ranks highest for term-time fines because there is simply no choice for when to take a holiday for too many hard-working families.
"Some employees have seasonal work commitments while others simply cannot afford to go on holiday at peak times when the cost of holidays skyrockets and will continue to do so thanks to Brexit.
“A full education is absolutely vital but so is quality family time together and it is fundamentally unfair that parents are being slapped with a fine because circumstances mean they have no other option but to take a break during term-time.
“It is about time we gave more flexibility to schools and headteachers to help families who need to take a break together which is why the Liberal Democrats will give headteachers the flexibility to grant up to 10 days of term-time absence in special circumstances."