New Opportunities Fund

Question Time — Scottish Executive – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:30 pm on 13th March 2003.

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Photo of Marilyn Livingstone Marilyn Livingstone Labour 2:30 pm, 13th March 2003

To ask the Scottish Executive what proportion of the out-of-schools learning funding under the new opportunities fund will be allocated to Scotland. (S1O-6648)

Photo of Mike Watson Mike Watson Labour

Under round 3 of the new opportunities fund's funding programme, a total of £87 million is being made available in Scotland under the new opportunities for physical education and sport initiative. Of that money, 25 per cent is available for out-of-school-hours activities. In addition, a further £2.8 million was awarded to sportscotland to manage and deliver the fund's programme for out-of-school-hours learning and school sport co-ordinators.

Photo of Marilyn Livingstone Marilyn Livingstone Labour

I welcome that funding. What steps are the minister and the Executive taking to ensure continued funding for Scottish initiatives and, in particular, to support investment in sport initiatives for young people in my constituency, such as skateboarding and golf coaching, which are currently being developed?

Photo of Mike Watson Mike Watson Labour

On community initiatives, part of the new opportunities fund—and indeed of the Community Fund itself—is a fair share initiative, which is designed to encourage more community applications for the sort of projects that Marilyn Livingstone mentioned. The current round of new opportunities fund funding is ideal for such applications. The latest round of applications for the out-of-school initiative closes on 15 April and I suggest that the projects that she mentioned are of a sort that should apply for that funding.

Photo of David Davidson David Davidson Conservative

Perhaps the minister could explain why the north-east of Scotland does not get a reasonable share of the funding, based on its population. Will he explain the criteria and what the north-east is doing wrong?

Photo of Mike Watson Mike Watson Labour

The north-east is not necessarily doing anything wrong. The money is not allocated on a geographical basis. The funds can respond only to the applications that are received.

Scotland gets 11.5 per cent of the new opportunities fund and the Community Fund. That is higher than the share per head of population in the United Kingdom as a whole, so Scotland does relatively well out of the funds. I have no answer for the north-east of Scotland, but the share is down to the number of applications. That is what the funds will respond to.