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Fury over lost College work

Consultants this week said a funding black hole in the Learning and Skills Council’s (LSC) College Building Programme will cause redundancies and trigger a bleak end to 2009, while the Council’s chief executive has resigned over the fiasco.

Last week it emerged that 79 Further Education colleges would not benefit from £2.7bn committed to the Capital Building Colleges for the Future Programme. Some had demolished existing buildings in anticipation of funding.

Many of the large consultancy firms were working to design the new structures for these 79 colleges.

Consultant Atkins, who has up to 250 staff working on 13 separate projects, said in a statement: “Many colleges are now facing bankruptcy because of funding issues. The delays are now presenting a serious potential problem for companies working on the projects.”

Speaking to NCE, the chairman of one major UK-based consultancy said news of the funding shortfall could not have come at a worse time. “Money from the government’s stimulus package will not start to come-in until 2010. We see the last two quarters of 2009 as a black hole.”

The director of a second firm said the industry was: “Furious. Almost every firm has people working on these college projects. What can we do if they are in limbo?”

Chief Executive of the LSC, Mark Haysom has resigned over the affair, admitting that: “There have been failures in the way that the LSC has managed the programme.”

The final post-mortem will be published in May, when Sir Andrew Foster will publish his report into the affair, and make recommendations on how to remedy the situation.

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