The BBC is reporting plans to be announced today by David Cameron that parents in England who refuse to pay a penalty after their children truant will have their child benefit docked.
Currently 40% of those fined fail to pay and many avoid court because councils do not pursue legal action.
A civil penalty of up to £120 will now be claimed back through child benefit if the fine is not paid after 28 days.
But the NASUWT teaching union said fines could punish children, rather than adults who care for them.
The existing system sees non-payment of the £60 civil penalty in England being doubled to £120 after 21 days and subject to prosecution after 28 days.
Under the new regulations, councils will be obliged to pursue payment from those who do not receive child benefit, taking parents to court if necessary.
David Cameron will argue that the system must be changed because truancy is harmful to children’s chances in life, and he will say that docking child benefit will speed up the process.
He is set to say: “We are determined to tackle the harm truancy does to a child’s chances in life.
“There is nothing responsible about allowing your child to go without an education. So for parents who let their child play truant and refuse to pay truancy penalties, we will deduct it from their child benefit.”
The Press Association says it obtained figures earlier this year which showed 16,430 people in England were prosecuted last year for failing to ensure that a child went to school.
About three-quarters – 12,479 – of these were found guilty, and courts issued 9,214 parents with fines worth an average of £172…
Meanwhile, the prime minister will also announce a new right for parents in England to request that schools provide breakfast and after-school clubs or holiday care.
Schools will not be obliged to provide these when asked, but will have to publish reasons why they do not respond to such requests from parents or childcare providers.
This will apply to all state-maintained primary schools, as well as new academies and free schools…
Is this further crackdown on truancy a welcome move from the government?
What do you feel, specifically, about the idea of deducting fines from benefits for those affected?
And what about the right for parents to request breakfast or after-school clubs and holiday care?
Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…
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