Page last updated at 18:48 GMT, Tuesday, 22 April 2008 19:48 UK

Culture body costs 'unreliable'

ballet dancers
The new body will merge the arts council and Scottish screen

Cost estimates for creating Scotland's new arts body Creative Scotland have been branded vague and unreliable.

The concerns were raised by MSPs on the Scottish Parliament's finance committee, which described the government figures as "unacceptable".

Plans for the new body would see a merger of the Scottish Arts Council with Scottish Screen.

MSPs on the committee have now demanded greater financial information on the plans from government officials.

The legislation to set up the new body, currently going through parliament, has estimated annual costs of 700,000.

Unreliable estimate

But Greig Chalmers, head of the Scottish Government's Creative Scotland and broadcasting team, told MSPs the figure could range from between "a few hundred thousand pounds to over a million".

Mr Chalmers said ministers wanted to see Creative Scotland established as soon as possible, and the 700,000 included an element for voluntary redundancy.

But, hitting out at the lack of clarity, committee convener and SNP MSP Andrew Welsh said: "It's vague and it could be massively more than we've been told.

"It's the most unreliable estimates I've ever seen in my life."

Fellow Nationalist Alex Neil told the official: "It seems to me as though you stuck your thumb in the air and picked out a figure.

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