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Council backs vouchers with Pounds 160,000

East Renfrewshire, one of four councils in Scotland taking part in the Government's pilot nursery voucher scheme, has spent Pounds 160,000 of its own money in offering a pre-five place to all four-year-olds.

When the council took over in April, just under half of four-year-olds (47 per cent) were in nurseries.

The Labour-run council is spending more than Pounds 440,000 on providing a comprehensive service for four-year-olds, in partnership with the private and voluntary sectors, and hopes to recoup nearly Pounds 282,000 through the voucher scheme. The shortfall is being met from the education budget.

Some 250 new nursery places have been created, 160 of which are based in hurriedly erected temporary nursery units at Thornliebank and Netherlee. The units, brought in from England, have cost Pounds 150,000. Other places have come by extending provision at existing nurseries.

Jim Fletcher, the council's education convener, said: "The pilot scheme has provided an opportunity to achieve our goals of meeting needs throughout our area by allowing us to top up the substantial commitment we are making in this sector."

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