COUNCILLORS in East Renfrewshire are expected to back plans to provide full refunds to parents and carers for school trips cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

There were 45 trips scheduled by East Renfrewshire schools before the end of term but, on March 20, the Scottish Government advised excursions should be postponed indefinitely.

Around £365,000 had been collected from parents and carers and approximately £218,000 had been paid over to travel providers.

A report to councillors states: “Given the complexities of varying contractual terms and conditions and the understandable financial difficulties the travel industry now faces, it will take some time to finalise either full refunds from travel providers or the settlement of any necessary insurance claims.”

Education chiefs will meet tomorrow morning and are asked to endorse a process to repay the money to ensure parents or carers “are not financially disadvantaged by any lengthy delays” and minimise any financial risk to the council.

The Emergencies Committee could then approve the process when it meets later that day.

P7 residentials can cost up to £350 per pupil, while some secondary school trips can cost up to £2,500 per pupil.

For each trip, if no payments have been made to travel providers and the council can confirm there are no contractual obligations around cancellation, then a full refund would be provided.

If the supplier confirms a full refund can be paid at a later date, then “a full refund can be made to parents/carers pending ERC receiving funds back from the supplier.”

If a provider gives “sufficient evidence” as to why a full refund cannot be provided, then an insurance claim would be submitted so a full refund can be made to parents and carers.

An insurance checklist has been provided to schools to ensure all necessary documentation is collated before a claim is submitted.

“Refunds to parents/carers in these circumstances would only be approved once the council’s insurance officer has confirmed satisfactory documentation has been provided by the relevant school,” the report adds.

The report suggests the council could only refund the money it currently holds, with further refunds made when travel companies return payments or insurance claims are settled.

But it suggests this alternative “would undoubtedly financially disadvantage parents/carers at an already challenging time for many.”

All school excursions are covered by a blanket East Renfrewshire Council travel insurance policy, which provides cover of up to £5,000 per person, up to a limit of £50,000 per trip.

“The advice from the council’s insurers is that the cancellation of such excursions, as a result of government advice against all but essential travel, would be a valid trigger for an insurance claim and there is no policy excess meaning full costs can be recovered.”