Fife families left hundreds of pounds out of pocket following the cancellation of school trips during lockdown have finally received refunds.
Parents who paid their children’s schools for activities organised by outdoor education provider PGL endured a six-month fight to get their money returned after scores of summer activities were called off in line with government advice.
The outcome has been described as a massive relief for those whose finances were already squeezed as a result of the pandemic.
Fife Council said it had pursued PGL for refunds for some months after the provider initially told parents to claim via individual schools’ insurance policies.
It is continuing to pursue other companies who have yet to refund deposits paid to them.
North East Fife Liberal Democrat politicians Willie Rennie and Wendy Chamberlain had called for reimbursements, saying there was no reason why companies or the council should hang on to the money.
MSP Mr Rennie said the delayed payouts were a “victory for parents”.
“Since many parents have felt the squeeze on their finances in recent months and children are now returning to school, I believe these funds will be a massive relief to many parents across Fife,” he said.
Ms Chamberlain MP added: “I am pleased the council have done the right thing in refunding these trips to parents.
“It should not have taken letters from disappointed and angry parents or for Willie Rennie and me to call for this, they should have done so immediately.
“These funds will surely go some way to helping parents adapt to returning to school after a very difficult six months.”
Fife Council’s education and children’s services convener, SNP councillor Fay Sinclair, said: “To be clear, at no time has the council retained any funds that parents had paid for school trips.
“We have been pursuing PGL for these refunds for some months since lockdown meant that sadly school trips had to be cancelled for our young people.
“We are continuing to pursue providers who have not refunded deposits and hope to get refunds back to parents as quickly as possible.”
PGL said almost 2,000 school bookings had been impacted by coronavirus and it was supporting parents with insurance claims.