The industry has reacted with disappointment to yesterday’s Budget (22 April), which announced just £300 million of fresh funding for the beleaguered LSC framework
Chancellor Alistair Darling pledged the funds over the next two years, saying they would target those colleges which had stalled due to mismanagement by LSC and those needing the most urgent improvements.
‘We were disappointed. We were certainly hoping there would be some sort of clear statement as to the LSC’s progress rather than this figure being hidden within the budget,’ says Tim Hampson, director of Dyer Associates. ‘The budget as a whole showed little interest in regenerating our industry. Disappointment is the term.
‘There is still no timescale for those just sitting around. The figure isn’t worth anything, we have two projects worth £70 million, so that is £140 million right there. What would have been better is to have been given a strategy. There is no strategy going forward. Be it mentioning phasing, re-design or otherwise, there is no lead.’
Hundreds of architects’ jobs are at risk due to delays to the £2.3 billion procurement programme for Further Education colleges.
The LSC came under fire following the publication of an independent enquiry by Andrew Foster, which criticised the council for approving projects for which it did not have the funding. In his report he said: ‘I have been forced to conclude the crisis was predictable and probably avoidable.’
The LSC chief executive resigned on 23 March ahead of the anticipated findings of the report.
‘The £300 million announced is just one-tenth of the funding gap of £3 billion, so it is a question of using it wisely,’ said Joanna van Heyningen of Van Heyningen and Haward. ‘So it doesn’t answer the whole question, but I do have sympathy for the government with this, as the LSC was responsible.’