Family fined £2,000 for taking term-time holiday that saved them £5,000

Family fined £2,000 for taking term-time holiday that saved them £5,000

The family went on their dream holiday together to Florida in September 2023 (Picture: Rebekah Richardson/SWNS)

A couple say they have no regrets taking their children on holiday during term-time despite being fined £2,000.

Rebekah Richardson, 38, and Dale Wood, 46, from Clowne, Derbyshire, were shocked to find a £5,000 difference in prices for holidays to Florida in September and October half term.

They opted for September and saved money despite the fine from Derbyshire County Council.

Rebekah was ordered to pay £924 and Dale £1,044 after they received a court summons in December 2023.

The pair risk being prosecuted if they do not pay the fare within 28 days.

Rebekah said: ‘We’re being treated as criminals for taking our young kids on holiday.

‘I feel as parents we’re penalised for everything now.

‘I have no regrets as a parent – I think you can’t ever regret spending time together as a family.

Jacob, eight, and Oliver, seven, got to meet their heroes (Picture: Rebekah Richardson/SWNS)

The family said they are now struggling after being issued the fine (Picture: Rebekah Richardson/ SWNS)

Rebekah says Christmas is now cancelled for the family because of the fine (Picture: Rebekah Richardson/SWNS)

‘The fine situation it’s like Russian roulette some get fined some don’t which is unfair.

‘Either every parent gets fined or none you can’t pick and choose – I don’t think we should get criminal records.’

The holiday was planned as a getaway for Dale who was suffering with his mental health after losing his brother Gavin died aged 35.

He had been off work since January due to his mental health and this made the family’s financial woes worse.

The couple are now disputing the fine amount due to their financial circumstances.

They say they are behind on every bill and have set up a direct debit to pay £170-a-month to pay off the fine.

Breakdown of the family’s trip

Out of term-time

Flights and accommodation in a package – £3,000

Family tickets for Orlando Studios – £1,200

Family tickets for Disneyland (for three days) – £1,100

Total: £5,200

During school holidays

Flights and accommodation in a package – £6,200

Family tickets for Orlando Studios – £2,100

Family tickets for Disneyland (for three days) – £2,100

Total spent – £10,400

Saving – £5,200

Savings after fines – £3,200

Rebekah said the holiday was magical but admitted Christmas for the family is now cancelled because they are skint.

She added: ‘We went swimming with the dolphins – the kids loved it, they even held an alligator.

‘They loved meeting all the Marvel characters and meeting Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

‘It was so nice to get away but now we are very stressed and worried what will happen.’

Rebekah said she knows of other parents who did the same thing but were not fined.

‘We’re being treated as criminals for taking our kids on holiday, they’re not year 11 and sitting GCSEs,’ Rebekah said.

‘And it’s alright for teachers to go on strike which made me have to unpaid time off as I am self-employed.’

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A spokesperson for Derbyshire County Council told Metro.co.uk: ‘The county council will issue a penalty notice at the request of a headteacher where unauthorised leave has been taken during term-time. In this case it was 13 days taken within term-time.

‘The level of penalty notice charging is set in line with government guidance and the law at £120 for each parent. However, if the penalty notice is paid within 21 days that reduces to £60 for each parent.

‘Unfortunately in this case the parents did not pay the notice and the case was referred to the Magistrates Court which imposed the fines after finding the parents guilty of failing to ensure their child’s regular attendance at school.’

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