All this considered, it seems only fair your neighbours should chip in. But we all know relationships with neighbours can be tricky. You might decide it’s not worth having the difficult conversation if it means glaring at each other over the garden hedge for the rest of summer.
Perhaps, instead of charging them a fee, you could offer to drive your neighbours only part way into town. Alternatively, you could ask them to return the favour and give you a lift at some point in the future?
Whatever you decide, going forwards, you should do what you can to cut your fuel costs. For a start, it’s usually cheaper to fill up your tank at the supermarket. You can also try driving more efficiently to cut down on the amount of fuel used.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below and by emailing [email protected].
You can also put any question to us (and anonymously) by using the email address above.
Last week’s Moral Money: ‘Should I take my child out of school to go on a cheap holiday?’
Dear Moral Money,
My five-year-old recently started at the local primary school and I’ve suddenly realised that for the next 13 years or so we will only be able to go on holiday during school holidays.
What makes it worse is that we haven’t been away for years. Like everyone, the pandemic put a stop to holidays and prior to 2020 we weren’t in a financial position to take the time off.
More and more of our son’s classmates seem to mysteriously disappear from school for a couple of days or even a week. Officially the child is ill, but it’s a pretty open secret in the playground that they’ve been taken out of school to save on the cost of a holiday.
At first I took the moral high ground but now I’m seriously thinking of joining them. A week’s trip for the three of us to Center Parcs in Suffolk would cost £2,500 in August, against £1,000 in mid-September.
My own parents would never have dreamt about taking me out of school, but everything is so much more expensive these days and this could be the only way we get a decent break.
In any case, a physically active holiday with two attentive parents is enriching in a way a classroom never could be.
I’m not suggesting we do this several times a year, and would never take him out during exam season. Is there really a problem if he misses a week of school? Everyone’s doing it and I don’t see why we should miss out.
– Ben L, Brighton
First thing’s first. It is a legal requirement for your child to attend school from compulsory school age. This is on December 31, March 31 or August 31 following their fifth birthday, whichever comes soonest. They must then start school the following term and stay until they are 16 and then until 18 in full-time education, or an apprenticeship or other kind of training.
Councils and schools can use various legal powers if your child misses school “without good reason”. You may be given a “parenting order” or made to pay a fine of £60 per parent, rising to £120 per parent after 21 days. In extremis, you could be prosecuted and given a fine of up to £2,500, given a community order – or even a jail sentence of up to three months.
Is it really worth the risk?
In reality, few parents are ever fined, let alone prosecuted. Of course, we could never recommend breaking the law, but we are all craving holidays after the past couple of years, and seeing other parents exploit the system to book cheap trips must be deeply frustrating if you’ve always followed the rules.
As you say, there is value for a child to gain from a trip to the Pyramids or Rome or even Center Parcs, especially if the choice is between one holiday, or none at all.
To feel vindicated you really do need to make sure the break enhances your son’s education and experiences: sitting on a beach for a week and filling up at an all-inclusive resort will not garner much sympathy.
Some readers might also make the point that the age of the child is vitally important. Missing a week of school at 15, with GCSEs looming, is surely a different kettle of fish to when your son is five.
If you don’t decide to go on moral grounds, would you consider alerting the authorities to other parents who do break the rules?
One thing I’m sure we all agree on is that children should be in school as much as possible. As many as 100,000 children are thought to be unaccounted for since schools reopened following the lockdowns. That is the real tragedy.
Poll results: Should our reader take his son out of school to go on holiday?
Yes – family memories are more important than a few days of school – 47pc
Yes – but you should take them somewhere that enhances what they’re studying – 14pc
No – your child’s education is too important to disrupt for a cheaper holiday – 26pc
No – breaking the law for a jolly holiday is out of the question – 13pc