New truancy measures

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PARENTS of children who play truant will have their child benefits cut if they fail to pay fines, under measures announced by prime minister David Cameron.

At present, non-payment of the £60 civil penalty in England leads to it being doubled to £120 after 21 days and subject to prosecution after 28. But 40 per cent still fail to pay and many do not end up in court because councils do not press legal action.

It comes after a warning from education leaders across the Portsmouth area last month for parents to send their children to school or face the consequences.

Statistics released by Portsmouth City Council show figures for absent pupils are still above the national average, with 6.4 per cent of children off secondary school over the academic year, compared with 5.2 per cent nationally, in 2013/14.

Mr Cameron said: ‘We are determined to tackle the harm truancy does to a child’s chances in life. So for parents who let their child play truant and refuse to pay truancy penalties, we will deduct it from their child benefit.’