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Colleges begin rescoping projects

Contractors wait to see the damage done to the college construction programme as rethink kicks in

Contractors are waiting to see the extent of the damage to the college construction programme as colleges rework their plans in a bid to cash in on limited emergency funding.

Colleges across the UK are reworking their capital projects as they wait for the Learning and Skills Council to reveal a shortlist to receive funding. The delivery body is expected to give shortlisted colleges just four weeks to come up with “radically reduced” plans.

Only eight of 79 college schemes approved in principle by the LSC were given funding to start construction before the delivery body ran out of cash earlier this year.

It has since been given £300 million of emergency cash by the Government, but has asked colleges to rescope their plans so it can spread the cash as widely as possible.

This has led to a standoff as colleges try to work out how much of their plans they can afford to hold on to if they want to win cash.

One college source said: “We do have a plan B but we are not going public on it until we have to. If the LSC knows we have a fallback option then we will have to abandon the original plan, which is not the intention at all.”

Contractors are left with a nervous wait to see which projects get funded, how dramatically they are rescoped, and what happens next.

UK Contractors Group director Stephen Ratcliffe said: “It seems it will be next week before we know which projects are through the first stage of the process.

“Then there will be a four-week period where the colleges have to rescope their proposals. We are concerned about this timeframe but the cuter colleges are already working on it.”

With so much uncertainty, some contractors are pulling resources out of bidding for colleges, while others are left desperately trying to hang on to site teams with work on hold.

In a further complication, some colleges are understood to be seeking alternative ways of funding their projects.

The UKCG has estimated that 40,000 jobs throughout the construction supply chain were reliant on the 71 stalled projects going ahead.

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