Official figures released by the Scottish Government have confirmed that this year’s funding allocated to local authorities for summer holiday provision was more than halved compared with the previous year.

Answers provided under freedom of information legislation show just £4 million was allocated to Scotland’s 32 local authorities for summer provision this year, compared with £10 million in 2022. £15 million was allocated to councils in 2021 with an extra £5 million provided via national bodies.

The decision to slash summer provision funding was made with no prior warning, and in fact Ministers had first indicated that no extra funding at all would be allocated to councils this summer.

The initial delay and subsequent cut in funding left organisations like the Pennypit Development Trust in Prestonpans scrabbling for alternative funding sources just weeks before the start of the summer holidays.

Commenting on the confirmation of the reduction in government funding, Martin Whitfield MSP said:

“These figures confirm that the Scottish Government decided to slash funding for summer provision by more than half compared with the previous summer, leaving councils and local groups in the lurch.

“In 2022 the government had provided £10 million to local authorities to support the development of programmes of coordinated access to childcare, food, and activities during school summer holidays.

“That support was vital to aid Covid recovery and ensure that children and families could access extra support through the summer holiday. However, the need post-covid has not gone away and, in fact, the cost of living crisis has made it more crucial than ever.

“That’s why it is so shocking that Ministers initially dithered and delayed on funding, suggesting that no extra funds would be provided, before then U-turning but slashing the amount allocated.

“Thankfully, the local holiday provision was able to go ahead despite the reduction in funding. However, groups like the Pennypit should never have had to go through the uncertainty they faced back in June and must have clarity on holiday funding in the future.”