THE Scottish Government has been accused of overseeing a “shambolic” U-turn after music classes across the country were cancelled with just hours of notice given.

The row centres on a £9 million annual Youth Music Initiative (YMI) fund which is managed by Creative Scotland, a non-departmental public body.

Creative Scotland sent a letter, reported by Music Teacher Magazine, to the organisations which receive YMI funding warning that the Scottish Government had asked that non-contracted spend for 2022/23 be paused “indefinitely”.

It came after Deputy First Minister and acting Finance Minister John Swinney laid out £500 million worth of cuts due to the impact of inflation, pay deals for public sector workers, and the cost-of-living crisis.

READ MORE: 'Republicans are not having our voices heard by the media,' Proclaimers say

The announcement meant that YMI projects across all of Scotland’s 32 local authorities – which provide around 1200 jobs and impact on around 243,000 participants – were put on immediate hold amid fears there would be no further funding.

Writing in the Scotsman, former Green MSP Andy Wightman said: “One musician in Fife was told at 5.30pm on Monday that all projects were on pause. Children turned up on Tuesday morning to find no tutors.”

Former Labour first minister Jack McConnell said the cuts to music funding was "cultural and social vandalism".

However, SNP Culture Minister Neil Gray (below) insisted that the YMI was “secure”.

The National: SNP MSP Neil Gray is the Scottish minister for Ukrainian refugees

He said: “While there is a brief pause in the distribution of funding while the Cost of Living Emergency Budget Review is completed, the funding for Creative Scotland’s Youth Music Initiative is secure and will not be reduced.

“The Scottish Government recognises the important role this programme plays in nurturing the talents of children and young people across the country.

“We are working closely with Creative Scotland and expect local authorities to be informed of the updated situation as soon as possible to allow delivery of the programme to start, or restart with minimal disruptions.”

READ MORE: Tory messaging on national identity 'unlikely to end well', report finds

Wightman responded: “How could funding which was to be indefinitely paused be, at the same time, secure? Who was making these decisions and why were projects being abandoned with less than 12 hours’ notice?”

He went on: “Government budgets are under strain, cuts are being made and, as the First Minister noted when announcing the Programme for Government, hard choices have to be made …

“But to essentially suspend programmes indefinitely and have children turn up to empty classrooms with 12 hours’ notice is a shoddy, shambolic and shameful way to treat partners, pupils and professional musicians.

“The Government’s U-turn appears to have saved the initiative but cuts yet to be made need to be handled with more sensitivity and professionalism.”

A Creative Scotland spokesperson said: “We welcome confirmation from the Scottish Government that funding for the transformational work of the Youth Music Initiative has been secured. The Youth Music Initiative has given hundreds of thousands of children and young people across Scotland access to free music education across the past twenty years.

“This crucial programme supports provision of music education projects, primarily in areas of social and economic deprivation, that contribute to children’s wider development. We’re in the process of informing local authorities, staff and all involved with the work of this very welcome development.”

The YMI is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2022.