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Practices lose out in LSC fiasco

Architects look set to miss out on hundreds of thousands of pounds in fees in the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) debacle, despite calls from a government select committee to compensate those hit by the scandal

Last week’s report, ‘Spend, spend, spend? – The mismanagement of the LSC’s capital programme in further education colleges’, slammed the quango for its ‘catastrophic failures’ in promising college heads far more cash than it had to give to spend on building projects.

The report recommended ‘urgent’ compensation for 150 colleges, which had squandered money on doomed and overly ambitious schemes. But there was no indication of what will happen to fees lost by architects’ firms.

Tim Hampson, director of architecture practice Dyer, said: ‘We don’t see any way we can recover our costs. Any payback would have to come from the colleges. It feels unfair, but we don’t see any legal route to the LSC.’

He added: ‘We built up teams which had to be made redundant, which costs us money, plus the tens of thousands we spent just to get on the framework.’

Tony Poole, head of education at Sheppard Robson, which worked on three LSC projects, agreed. ‘Firms will probably not get as much back as they feel they are entitled to. Practices on the larger schemes would have been incurring significant costs.We haven’t lost out massively, but it has impacted on us. This could represent one or even two years of work effectively put in the bin.’

Joanna van Heyningen of LSC framework Joint Venture for Further Education (van Heyningen and Haward) said: ‘Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and ourselves have totted up the money we have lost on this debacle and it comes to several hundred thousand pounds.’

An AJ investigation in April (AJ 30.04.09) discovered that indefinite delays to the £2.3 billion programme for further education colleges, caused by uncontrolled overspending, resulted in the potential loss of £186 million in fees and a wave of redundancies.

Geoff Russell, LSC chief executive, said: ‘We are working with the sector to explore alternative financing options to support more college projects to be built… The LSC has under­taken a review of the costs incurred by colleges to identify solvency issues.’

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