CHILDREN will get free access to all summer playschemes in Inverclyde this year after a last-minute move by councillors.

Parents and guardians will not be charged for sending their young ones to the school holiday clubs run by Inverclyde Leisure or directly funded by the council this summer.

Officials have estimated that the cost of subsidising the schemes will be no more than £20,000, which will come from the Year of the Young People Legacy Fund.

This expands the existing subsidy of Inverclyde Leisure's playschemes to encompass all council-funded programmes, including activities like Play4all out of school care provision.

The successful funding request was made by Labour councillor Jim Clocherty and seconded by his colleague Francesca Brennan.

Councillor Clocherty says he hopes the scheme will help families who are dealing with the current cost of living squeeze.

He said: "This year we've tried to find a way to make it free of charge throughout Inverclyde.

"Our officers found a way to do it - it's not painless but they have found a way.

"Similar to the recent Meliora Festival, for this year we can give families a wee bit of respite to know that they have an extra couple of pounds in their pocket."

The subsidy is only for the 2022/23 summer playscheme programme, with the council facing very tight budgets in the years ahead.

His colleague Cllr Brennan says free playschemes will lift a bit of the burden being faced by hard-pressed local families.

She said: "We know through well-documented evidence gathered by organisations such as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation that paying for and planning for these summer holiday experiences can put parents under huge pressure.

"Even aside from the current cost of living crisis, too many families are experiencing incredible financial stress, which only seems to intensify over the holiday period when the safety net has worn too thin.

"Cost should not be a barrier to young people in Inverclyde accessing playschemes."

The decision only relates to universal playschemes and not pre-booked childcare places which are already offered free of charge at Aileymill, Newark, St Patrick’s and Wellington.

The playschemes are covered by the subisidy are Newark, Kilmacolm, St Patrick’s, Aileymill, Moorfoot, Inverkip and Auchmountain run by Inverclyde Leisure.

The decision also includes Youth Connections, Craigend, Branchton and Play4All (including the Play4All out of school care provision), which receive funding from the council.