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Confusion over extra cash for out-of-school care schemes

Local enterprise companies will have at least pound;1 million to spend on out-of-school care schemes in the coming year, Scottish Enterprise revealed this week. The announcement follows months of uncertainty and some projects were on the point of being run down.

The Out-of-School Care Initiative was launched through the LECs three years ago. The scheme was extended in January until 1999. More than 9,000 children currently benefit. The Government has said that pound;1.5 million is available over the next three years, but according to a Scottish Enterprise spokesman the total sum disbursed will be "double that allocated".

Malcolm Chisholm, Labour MP for Leith, said: "This is definitely not new money. It has not been earmarked in the LECs' budgets. I would therefore now like to see evidence of the spending."

Irene Audain, co-ordinator of the voluntary Scottish Out of School Care Network, said: "It begs the question as to where it is coming from."

Brian Henderson, Fife Enterprise's head of strategy, said: "It was only a few weeks ago we knew that the goalposts had been shifted and the initiative was to continue. We have yet to hold further meetings to decide what to do next" Ann Auchterlonie, Fife's depute director of education, said: "I am anxious to get the confusion cleared up as quickly as possible."

Grampian Enterprise is committed to spending up to pound;80,000 during the next financial year. Bruce Armitage, director of training, said: "The Government has not allocated a specific budget for the initiative but we still want to build on its previous success."

The success of the initiative has not extended to areas of deprivation, critics say, since places are funded largely by parents' fees.

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