Let’s stag­ger our UK school hol­i­days

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Speaker’s Corner - Lisa Forbes, Labour Par­lia­men­tary spokesper­son

In my first col­umn since the kids went back to school I thought it timely to talk about how costly a time it is for par­ents dur­ing the hol­i­day pe­riod.

The cost of a fam­ily day out at say, a theme park, or lo­cal at­trac­tion has be­come a very ex­pen­sive thing to do and leaves many a par­ent scratch­ing their heads won­der­ing how they are go­ing to keep the kids oc­cu­pied for six weeks. To give an ex­am­ple, a re­cent trip to the zoo for two adults and two young chil­dren cost a whop­ping £70.00 and all that was left was won­der­ing how to fill the other 41 days.

We all as­pire to take our chil­dren away on hol­i­day dur­ing the sum­mer break and will be all too aware of how the cost of do­ing so is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly out of reach for so many.

Dur­ing the school hol­i­days, the price of a hol­i­day rental sky rock­ets to as­tro­nom­i­cal pro­por­tions, in many cases dou­bling in price only to slump back down as soon as the kids head back to school. I’m sure I’m not the only one who looks on the in­ter­net to book the sum­mer break, only to sit there in front of my com­puter com­pletely aghast at how much it’s go­ing to cost to have a week away for some qual­ity fam­ily time and to recharge the bat­ter­ies.

The trou­ble is, as par­ents we face lit­tle choice about pay­ing these high prices as the law pe­nalises par­ents who take their kids away dur­ing school term times, mean­ing many can rarely af­ford to take their kids away on hol­i­day.

The an­swer to this can­not be more en­cour­age­ment to re­move chil­dren from school to ac­com­mo­date hol­i­days. A good ed­u­ca­tion is in­creas­ingly im­por­tant in this day and age. The an­swer must be more cre­ative than that and un­less the hol­i­day com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­ual cot­tage own­ers can show some re­straint in the prices they charge, which is ex­tremely un­likely when the de­mand is so high, then the gov­ern­ment should in­ter­vene to help out those who are find­ing them­selves priced out of a fam­ily break.

This could mean stag­ger­ing school hol­i­days through­out the coun­try and there­fore low­er­ing the de­mand in the nar­row time­frames cur­rently avail­able to par­ents, which in turn should cause the prices to drop nat­u­rally.

If, like me, you want to sup­port the lo­cal tourism in­dus­try and hol­i­day in our beau­ti­ful and di­verse Bri­tish Isles, this so­lu­tion would not only ben­e­fit par­ents, but should also be a mas­sive boost to the lo­cal tourism in­dus­try, be­cause all too often when I speak to other par­ents about how ex­pen­sive it is to take the kids away on hol­i­day in this coun­try, the usual re­sponse will be to go abroad, as even with the flights fac­tored in it very often works out cheaper.

With this in mind, stag­ger­ing school hol­i­days seems like a no brainer, not just for strug­gling par­ents, but should also act as a shot in the arm for the lo­cal econ­omy, as more peo­ple are able to hol­i­day in the UK through­out the year.

It seems to me like it’s long over­due.

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