Capital collusion fails us all

6th November 2009 at 00:00

It is pleasing that the skills select committee report on the Learning and Skills Council's (LSC) capital debacle came down strongly on the side of colleges and students in arguing that the LSC should fully recompense colleges for their losses. But it is hugely disappointing that the LSC and the Government are unwilling to respond positively to this proposal ("Government ignores plea for capital repayment", FE Focus, October 23).

The failure of the LSC to keep a numbers tally of the costs of projects it had approved is bad enough. What really makes me unhappy is that the LSC and the Government are compounding this by rewriting history in a very disingenuous way.

What they are saying is that colleges knew in December 2008 that there was a serious difficulty in the capital budget and that any expenditure colleges made after that time was their risk. Moreover, they are saying that they will work to the LSC Capital Handbook in refunding costs, which means they will only fund up to pound;850,000 of the first pound;1 million spent on development costs by colleges.

The truth that both the LSC and the Government are hiding from is that colleges, such as my own, John Leggott, did not know the extent of the capital disaster created by the LSC until the letter we received in March 2009 telling us very clearly that the LSC had no money.

For the LSC to only compensate colleges in line with its technical handbook is completely unfair, as its staff were advising us that it was necessary to spend above these limits in order to complete the project plans.

Sadly, we have the Government colluding with the LSC so that colleges such as my own not only fail to have a building that the LSC encouraged us to develop plans for, but are unable to pursue the capital plans we wanted to at the start because it has squandered our students' money.

Nicholas Dakin, Principal of John Leggott College, Scunthorpe.

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