Moral Money Car Train Transport Rail Attack – Nick Meng for The Telegraph
Dear Moral Wealth,
I have decided to go to work this week while the train strike is going on. I live outside of London, near Aylesbury, so I usually travel by rail. I’ve written off any chance of getting on the train, so my commute looks like it’ll be a nightmare – involving two buses and a coach and taking me at least three hours from door to door.
I was complaining about this last weekend at a neighbor’s garden party. Two women living in my street – and with whom I sometimes travel – were tearing their hair out on strikes, worrying about how they would make it work. None of them own a car, so I offered to give them a lift during the strike.
The trouble is that it’s not that convenient for me. Although they operate somewhat near my offices, it would be horrible to drive through central London during a strike. And the cost of fuel is so high – it’s 165p a liter for unleaded at my local petrol station – it’s probably going to cost me at least £10 in petrol every day, which works out to £40 a whole week. And then there’s the extortionate cost of parking.
Can I ask them to contribute? If I was driving some friends out of town, I’d have no problem suggesting that we split the cost. But is she also a non-neighbor?
– Angela B., Chilternso
It is certainly within your rights to ask your neighbors to contribute to your driving costs. With fuel prices constantly on the rise, carpooling just isn’t cheap. As per the latest data from RAC, the average price of petrol currently stands at 186.59p per litre, an increase of about 50p from last year, while diesel stands at 192.48p.
Time is also money, and given the huge increase in traffic from circling their workplaces during Britain’s biggest rail strike in decades, your journey could be quite a long one. The AA has warned that major roads in the city will be extremely busy.
All this considered, it seems reasonable that your neighbors should join in. But we all know that relationships with neighbors can be difficult. You may decide it’s not worth having a difficult conversation if it means staring at each other on the garden hedge for the rest of the summer.
Perhaps, instead of charging them a fee, you can offer to drive your neighbors into town only partially. Alternatively, you can ask them to return the favor and give you a lift at some point in the future?
Whatever decision you make, going forward, you should do what you can to cut your fuel costs. For starters, it’s usually cheaper to fill up your tank at the supermarket. You can also try driving more efficiently to reduce the amount of fuel used.
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Last week’s moral wealth: ‘Should I take my child out of school to go on vacation cheaply?’
Dear Moral Wealth,
My five year old recently started at the local elementary school and I suddenly realized that for the next 13 years we would only be able to go on vacation during school holidays.
What’s worse is that we haven’t been away for years. Like everyone else, the pandemic put a halt to the holidays and before 2020 we were not in a financial position to take time off.
More and more classmates of our son mysteriously disappear from school for a few days or even a week. Officially the child is sick, but it is an open secret at the playground that they have been taken out of school to save on vacation costs.
At first I took the moral high ground but now I am seriously thinking of joining them. A weeklong trip to Center Parks in Suffolk for the three of us would cost £2,500 in August, compared to £1,000 in mid-September.
My own parents would never have dreamed of kicking me out of school, but everything is so much more expensive these days and that might be the only way we can get a good break.
In any case, a physically active vacation with two attentive parents is enriching in a way that the classroom could never be.
I’m not suggesting that we do it several times a year, and will never take her out during exam season. Is there really a problem if he misses a week of school? Everyone’s doing it and I don’t know why we should miss.
– Ben L., Brighton
First things first. It is a legal requirement for your child to attend school by the mandatory school age. It is on 31st December, 31st March or 31st August after his fifth birthday, whichever comes first. They must then start school in the following period and remain in full-time education, or an apprenticeship or other form of training, until the age of 16 and then until the age of 18.
If your child misses school “without good reason,” the council and school can exercise various legal powers. You may be given a “parenting order” or asked to pay a fine of £60 per parent, which increases to £120 per parent after 21 days. In the extreme, you could be prosecuted and fined up to £2,500, given a community order – or even jailed for up to three months.
Is it really worth the risk?
In fact, very few parents are ever fined, let alone prosecuted. Of course, we can never recommend breaking the law, but we’ve all been longing for the holidays after the last few years, and to book cheap trips to other parents if you’ve always followed the rules. It must be very disappointing to see the system being exploited.
As you say, the benefits for the child from a visit to the Pyramids or Rome or even Center Parks are of value, especially if the choice is between a holiday, or none at all.
You really need to make sure the break enhances your son’s education and experiences in order to feel right: Nothing will bring more sympathy than sitting on the beach for a week and filling up at an all-inclusive resort.
Some readers might even say that the age of the child is very important. With the GCSE coming up, missing a week of school at 15 is certainly a different kettle of fish when your son is five years old.
If you decide not to go on ethical grounds, would you consider alerting the authorities to other parents breaking the rules?
One thing I’m sure we all agree on is that kids should be in school for as long as possible. More than 100,000 children are believed to be unaccompanied since schools reopened after the lockdown. This is the real tragedy.
Poll Results: Should our reader take his son out of school to go on vacation?
Yes – family memories are more important than a few days of school – 47pc
Yes – but you must take them somewhere that enhances their study – 14pc
No – Interrupting your child’s education is too important for a cheap vacation – 26pc
No – no question breaking the law for a fun holiday – 13pc