Parents who fail to pay truancy fines will have child benefit docked, says David Cameron

Parents of children who pay truant will have their child benefit docked if they fail to pay fines, David Cameron has announced.

The Prime Minister said he was determined to "tackle the harm truancy does to a child's chances in life".

Currently, if parents fail to pay the £60 penalty in England it is doubled to £120 after 21 days and they face prosecution if it has still not been paid after 28.

But 40% still fail to pay and many do not end up in court as councils do not take legal action.

Under the new scheme, parents who refuse to pay the fine will automatically have their welfare payments docked.

Cameron told Good Morning Britain this would only happen in cases where children were "persistently truant".

What we're saying today is that where those fines aren't paid, they should be taken out of a child's benefit. This is to make sure the signal is absolutely clear it is your duty as a parent to get your children to school every day. > >

David Cameron

Asked whether his children had ever played truant, Cameron said: "No they haven't.

"And I would come down very toughly on them if they ever did."

£60

current cost of civil penalty if a child plays truant

16,430

number prosecuted in England last year for failing to ensure their child went to school

9,214

parents were issued with fines totalling an average of £172

David Cameron at the Conservative conference on Monday. Credit: PA Wire

The Government hope the new measures help ease the financial pressure on councils to pursue expensive legal action against parents.

However, local authorities will be put under a new duty to pursue penalties through the courts in cases where parents do not receive the benefit because they earn more than £50,000.

Mr Cameron also said parents will be given a right to request that schools provide breakfast and after-school clubs or holiday care.

"Ensuring children get the best start in life is at the heart of our plans,"he said.

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