Measures announced by David Cameron will see parents of children who play truant having their child benefit docked if they fail to pay fines.
The Prime Minister said he was determined to “tackle the harm truancy does to a child’s chances in life”.
At the moment 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 tend not to take legal action.
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The child benefit plans, unveiled at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, are expected to “significantly” reduce the legal costs of councils by removing the need to take non-payers in receipt of child benefit to court.
But 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.
Figures obtained earlier this year by the Press Association showed that 16,430 people in England were prosecuted last year :for failing to ensure that a child went to school – with around three-quarters (12,479) found guilty. Courts issued 9,214 parents with fines worth an average of £172.
Mr Cameron said: “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.”