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Charity cutbacks could affect education

The umbrella organisation for the voluntary sector in Scotland has warned that more charities will have to consider redundancies, mergers or cutting their services as they face financial cuts - with a serious knock- on effect for education.

The prediction came as two of the most high-profile charities for young people in Scotland - the Prince's Trust and Fairbridge - announced their merger.

The warning coincides with education authorities' increasing reliance on voluntary bodies to provide services in and out of school - particularly to support more challenging youngsters - that were previously delivered by councils themselves.

John Stodter, general secretary of the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland, said: "There is no doubt that charities can and do offer very high quality, very specialist, fit-for-purpose services, and if funding becomes a major issue, they won't be able to offer these services, so certain groups, certain individuals will lose out."

Mr Stodter said these could include services for children with very specific circumstances or very particular needs. "You get niche areas that are targeted in the attempt to get savings, but in fact these services are quite important in terms of narrowing the gap."

The Prince's Trust and Fairbridge will join forces on April 1 and operate under the name of the Prince's Trust. Martina Milburn, the current chief executive of the trust, will continue in this role, while Andrew Purvis, chef executive of Fairbridge, will step down.

The Prince's Trust helps around 4,000 young people in Scotland each year by providing them with practical and financial support. Fairbridge currently works out of three centres in Scotland, supporting young people aged 13 to 25 in developing confidence, motivation and skills.

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