Holiday funding for east Lothian Council cut by two-thirds

Tuesday July 11th 2023


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Funding to help families through the summer holidays has been cut by nearly two-thirds in East Lothian by the Scottish Government this year.

East Lothian Council said it was only told it would receive just under £65,000 from the government’s Targeted Provision for School Aged Children, Summer 2023 programme as the schools were preparing to break up for the holiday.

The reduction from last year’s £161,000 left the council having to make last minute decision about where to use the funding.

A spokesperson said ‘given the very short notice we were given in which to decide how we should use the funding’ four areas received a share of the money.

Just over £20,000 was put in a contingency fund for future activities to support vulnerable children and those with additional support needs.

A further £18,000 has been given to the Pennypit Centre, Prestonpans, to meet a shortfall in money it has to run lunch clubs in the town and neighbouring Tranent.

Summer youth activities across the county and childrens play schemes including those who support children with disabilities received the rest of the funds.

A council spokesperson said it had already provided nearly £250,000 from its own budgets to support increasing levels of need in the community with £30,000 of local authority cash assigned from its education budget to support ‘holiday hunger’ projects across the county.

They said: “We continue to provide weekly BACS payments throughout all holidays to families who are eligible to receive free school meals.

“Towards the end of 2022 we allocated £112,000 to support food initiatives over the winter and into the spring – the Foodbank (£30k to purchase supplies), Fareshare Hub (£27k to purchase supplies to for distribution to pantries and larders) and Volunteer Centre East Lothian (£55k to distribute to food groups providing hot food over the winter and to support pantries and larders)

“We awarded Pennypit Community Development Trust £99,000 from our One Council Partnership Award funding to support its work.

“Funding was also awarded to other food-based projects including East Lothian Foodbank: £15,000, Roots & Fruits £35,000 and Our Community Kitchen £8000.”

The Scottish Government were approached for comment and said payments made in In 2021 and 2022 of £15m and £10m were ‘additional one off’ investments during the Covid pandemic to allow councils to build on existing summer food and activity programmes.

They said all local authorities had been informed of this decision and their individual allocations from this year’s funding.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Scottish Ministers understand the financial pressures many families are currently facing, due to the costs crisis caused by the UK Government’s handling of the economy and policy decisions.

“That is why the Scottish Government is providing all local authorities, including East Lothian, with £4 million in funding to help them deliver summer programmes.

“This funding will also support the transition to a year-round system of school age childcare, which follows on from the First Minister’s announcement of a £15 million investment to design, test and build such a system.

“Additionally, the Scottish Government is providing £21.75 million for free school alternatives for eligible families during the school holidays.”

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