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Term-time changes 'could lead to cheaper holidays'

Families could see a drop in the price of holidays as schools are given more control on setting half-term dates, the consumer affairs minister says.

Jenny Willott insisted the coalition has no plans to regulate as it is not convinced higher prices during school holidays are caused by "market abuse" by the holiday industry, but instead reflect the demand in an international competitive sector.

Term time changes 'could lead to cheaper holidays' Credit: Chris Ison/PA

But Ms Willott said proposals to enable schools greater choice on when to set holidays by next year could result in different break times for pupils across the country, which would extend the peak holiday period and could help bring prices down.

Your views: Fines for families that holiday in term-time

We asked you if the decision of when to holiday should be left to parents, or if councils are right to enforce the rules after it was revealed that thousands of fines have been issued to parents who have taken their children on unauthorised holidays.

  • Lynne Hallworth: I'm British but now live in Canada. We can take our kids on vacation at any time. The teachers consider travel an education, new countries, new languages and cultures. Now my kids are older, they decided they don't want to miss school - they have made that choice, not a government.
  • Clair Hanson: People seem to forget that a holiday is a luxury item, not a necessity and that travel companies are business, not charities. If they can charge more during school holidays and still sell all the places then why shouldn't they?
  • Jason Marshall: When I was at school, never a week went by without someone being on holiday, it was the norm in the seventies and eighties.
  • Kaz Langley: Can parents fine teachers and NUT for teacher training days in term time?

Join the conversation on the ITV News Facebook page.


Gove attacks travel firms for trying to 'fleece parents'

Education Secretary Michael Gove has condemned holiday firms for trying to "fleece parents" by ramping up travel prices when schools are out.

His comments come as a poll for ITV News found a third of adults said they have gone on a family holiday during term time, when costs are significantly lower.

Mr Gove, though, said parents "should not take children out of school during the school term".

Instead, he said varying term dates across schools would help families benefit from off-peak travel prices.

71% believe travel costs amid school holidays are unfair

More than two thirds of Britons have condemned the cost of travel during school breaks, an exclusive poll for ITV News has found.

The ComRes survey found only 13% of adults agreed that current travel prices during school holidays were "fair" - compared to 71% who disagreed with the statement.

Parents have complained that the costs for family holidays rocket during breaks from school. Credit: Kent Nishimura/ABACA USA

However, the 2,052 Britons questioned were divided over whether parents should be able to take their children out of school at any time they like.

Half of Britons (49%) believed that was a step too far while just over a third (35%) thought parents should be free to travel with their children whenever they wanted.

Third of parents take children on holidays in term time

A third of parents say they have taken their children out of school during term time for a family holiday, an exclusive poll for ITV News has found.

More than half of British adults said it was not reasonable for parents to be fined £120 fine per child for holidaying during term time. Credit: Sebastian Kahnert/DPA

Half of parents of children under the age of 18 (51%) and 42% of the public in general also confirmed they would do the same to benefit from cheaper travel prices.

The ComRes poll of 2,052 adults was conducted as MPs prepare to debate whether holiday companies should do more to keep the price of family getaways down when school is out.

The poll found more than half of British adults (54%) disagreed that a £120 fine for taking a child out of school was reasonable, compared to 30% who agreed with the council-imposed penalty.


Over 166,000 people back school holiday price petition

More than 166,000 people have backed the petition to stop travel companies raising their prices during school holidays which has triggered today's MPs debate.

The petition set up by mother-of-two Donna Thresher received massive supporter after Paul Cookson's angry Facebook post. Credit:

The online campaign received a huge boost in support after a Facebook post by an angry parent complaining about being "ripped off" by steep rise in holiday prices outside term time went viral.

Paul Cookson, 41, said he was "sick to death" of the practice after being quoted £999 for a holiday that would have cost £699 during the school year.

  1. Central

'I'd do it again': Fined father says he would take children on holiday in term-time again

Stewart Sutherland says people need to take children on holiday in term-time to save money and also because of the difficulty of taking leave during school holidays.

He says life is short and will be difficult for young people so they should have as much family time as they can.

Holiday industry 'relies on profits from peak periods'

The Government has come out in defence of the UK holiday industry, after a petition started by parents frustrated at the extra costs imposed on family getaways triggered a Parliamentary debate.

A spokesperson for the Department of Business said:

The UK holiday industry is an extremely competitive market and as a result the sector relies on the profits from peak periods to make sure it can trade throughout the year.

On top of this, the industry competes internationally against companies from other countries and as a result may need to increase prices during these periods.

If anyone suspects that companies are behaving anti-competitively, they should present the evidence to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) or the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

– Spokesperson for the Department of Business

Family holiday price debate to begin

MPs will debate the extra cost of a family holiday after an irate parent started a campaign to stop companies raising prices when school was out.

Paul Cookson said he was "sick to death" of being charged extra to take his daughter on holiday after school had ended. Credit: PA

A petition inspired by Paul Cookson's initial rant climbed to 160,000 signatures earlier this month, triggering today's 4:30pm debate in Westminster Hall.

Father-of-one Cookson initially complained when he realised he would have to pay an extra £300 to take his family on holiday in the UK when term had ended.

In his complaint, which went viral, he said: “I am sick to death of being ripped off with this country.

I choose not to take my daughter out of school term away on holiday and stick to the set school holidays - but why should I be penalized by doing the correct thing as a parent??? [sic]

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