Child Benefit to be docked for parents of persistent truants

6 Oct 15

Parents who persistently allow their children to miss school will have their Child Benefit docked if they fail to pay fines, the prime minister has announced.

David Cameron said this tougher approach to truancy would ensure children in the UK are getting the best education.

Currently, non-payment of the £60 civil penalty for truancy in England doubles to £120 if payment is not made within 21 days and failure to pay subject to prosecution after 28 days. Forty per cent of the fines go unpaid and many parents do not end up in court because councils do not take legal action.

In 2013/14, some 42.5 million school days were missed because of truancy, the government said.

Under the new rules, parents who allow their children to skip school and avoid paying the fine within 28 days will now have it docked from their Child Benefit or will be pursued through the courts.

The government plans to issue statutory guidance to local authorities, explaining how they can use a range of sanctions to tackle truancy, including the right to prosecute in the most serious instances. A criminal prosecution could trigger a fine of up to £2,500 and possible imprisonment.

“We are also determined to tackle the harm truancy does to a child's chances in life,” Cameron said.

“There is nothing responsible about allowing your child to go without an education.”

  • Judith Ugwumadu

    Judith Ugwumadu joined Public Finance International and Public Finance online as a reporter after stints at Financial Adviser, Global Security Finance and The Sunday Express. Currently, she writes about public finance, public services and economics.

    Follow her on @JudithUgwumadu_

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