A LABOUR council has come under fire after cutting after school care for children with autism and other special needs.

The City of Edinburgh Council is facing questions after parents of children with additional support needs (ASN) were reportedly left in the dark about childcare arrangements just weeks before schools were due to return after the summer holidays.

It is understood some families have had their after school care arrangements reinstated.

Simita Kumar, the SNP council group’s education spokesperson, said the situation was “chaotic” and exacerbating “stress, anxiety and worry” for parents.

She wrote to the convenor of the council’s education committee to call for a review into the decision to cut the service.

Kumar said: “I am writing to express my shock and disappointment at the withdrawal of after school care and support for children and young people with ASN with little notice, and the subsequent last-minute, chaotic and partial reinstatement to some of the families affected.

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“Although the reinstatement is welcome, I am aware that not all families have had their care confirmed, either because support assistants have already been let go or because they are new applicants, and the council appears to be running down this service.

“The enhanced after school support is an essential and valuable service for our most vulnerable pupils and their families.

“The delay in communication and lack of information has coincided with the school term restarting exacerbating stress, anxiety and worry for parents and carers – not to mention the financial impact on working families during a cost of living crisis.”

She added: “Children and young people who desperately need this enhanced support to attend after school clubs have been badly let down.”

Councillor Joan Griffiths, Education, Children and Families Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said:

“As part of our due diligence we became aware of a contract with a third-sector provider that was performing significantly below our thresholds for best value.  This left us no option but to terminate it. 

"All families have been contacted and given assurance that the support they previously received is in place.  Officers will continue to develop plans to provide the support in a way that meets our commitment to parents, carers and providers, while also ensuring that public money is not wasted.

“Any delays in contacting affected families were due to the organisation failing to supply us with the necessary details. I will also be writing to the provider to seek further clarity of what the funds were used for and the services that were provided.”

City of Edinburgh Council said that there is no change in the support being provided and that it is now liaising directly with out of school care providers, rather than via a third party.