UK & World News

  • 24 February 2014, 13:37

Debate Over Holiday Prices In School Breaks

An internet rant by a man who was angry about being forced to pay more for a holiday during half term has led to a debate on the issue by MPs later.

Paul Cookson said he was "sick to death" of being ripped off by travel companies in an initial post on Facebook entitled "school holiday rant".

Since then he has set up an online group joined by more than 15,000 people campaigning to stop holiday companies hiking their prices up for families out of school time.

Mr Cookson told Sky News: "I think we expect the prices are going to increase during these peak times because some companies have to put on more entertainment, more food and drink, so you can appreciate that.

"But it's to how much (it is increased). When you're talking three, four or even five times the amount, it just doesn't work."

One campaigner from the online group said a holiday to Gran Canaria cost £2,821 in May and £5,887 a week earlier in the April Easter holidays.

A petition has now been signed by more than 166,000 people and the Commons Backbench Committee has now brought the issue to Westminster Hall for debate.

Liberal Democrat MP, John Hemming, who proposed the debate says: "Obviously parents are being charged a lot more for one part of the year compared to another part of the year ... what matters is finding a way that people can go on holiday with their children and spend time with their children."

Head teachers are no longer allowed to grant pupils absence outside of school holidays except in "exceptional circumstances", following a change to law.

Heads can now issue fines to parents who take their children out of school for holidays.

Sean Tipton, from the Association of British Travel Agents, defended the price changes.

"The reason is very simple, it's basic economics," he said.

"School holidays fall at times of the year when demand is already very high, so holiday companies are like any other industry and will increase their prices when demand does go up."

One idea due to be discussed by MPs is to stagger school holidays across the country, which is a proposal campaigners welcome.

Education secretary Michael Gove said schools have the freedom to change their own term times, meaning "there's no need to sacrifice your child's education for a cheaper holiday."

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