The high costs of faith

31st October 2003 at 00:00
Colleen Sweeney is convinced of the benefits of faith schools. Her four children go to St Benedict's college and St Thomas More primary in Colchester, Essex.

But the welfare rights officer says she would have to consider whether it will be worth working full-time if Essex county council charges her pound;300 per year for each of them to travel to school.

"This decision could cost me thousands of pounds over the next few years - pound;1,200 for the first year alone.

"These charges will mean a real struggle for families on low incomes.

"You might have to think whether you would be better off not working and receiving benefits instead, with the possible option of paying a means-tested pound;40 charge per child per term, which the council has discussed."

She said parents are considering court action.

"It is discrimination because of our religion and that's an infringement of our human rights," she said.

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