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Sir Paul McCartney furious with government over [pounds sterling]16m 'injustice' that will cost Liverpool; Beatles legend hits out at 'flawed process' as investigation launched.

Byline: Liam Thorp

Sir Paul McCartney has blasted government incompetence and a catalogue of errors that has seen a city institution miss out on [pounds sterling]16m.

The Beatles legend has been left furious after theLiverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA)that he co-founded was left facing an uncertain future after what he called an 'injustice'.

An investigation is now underway by the Parliamentary Ombudsman, looking at how the Office for Students (then the HEFCE) disqualified LIPA from a funding process which the institution believes was 'botched' and riddled with errors.

Responsible for the distribution of funding for higher education to universities, HEFCE failed LIPA at the first stage of the process in 2016. Despite being allowed to proceed to the next stage of the funding process - following a subsequent successful appeal - LIPA discovered all the fund had already been allocated.

LIPA, founded 24 years ago, says the 'series of errors', made in 2016, has cost the institute some [pounds sterling]16 million in potential funding and a further [pounds sterling]160,000 for the initial steps of a judicial review.

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Following the adverse second stage decision, HEFCE wrongly advised LIPA that the decision-making process could not be challenged, so LIPA's only option was to embark upon a Judicial Review process.

The Judicial Review gave LIPA access to key evidence, which revealed HEFCE's 'repeatedly flawed' decision-making process. Its process has since also been deemed unfair and unprofessional by a number of independent bodies, including three Liverpool universities.

HEFCE's decision-making process is now under review by the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

LIPA's Lead Patron, Sir Paul McCartney, said: "I helped to bring LIPA into life during very difficult times for Liverpool. It is now a highly respected institution all over the world.

"Our funding was recently affected by what to me, and the heads of every university in Liverpool, was a flawed process.

"LIPA is my passion and part of my legacy. It would not be fair to allow injustice to affect its future.

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"I sincerely hope the Government will correct this error and help us to continue our work successfully into the future."

Mark Featherstone-Witty, LIPA's Principal and co-founder, added: "LIPA has been central to maintaining the level of Liverpool's cultural output, the prestige of which is the envy of the world.

"As one of the most respected arts institutions in the world, the funding body's decision has had a huge impact on, not only the city, but on our country's cultural output as a whole, let alone ourselves."

"Mistakes are a part of being human... and you should learn from them. So, aside from wanting justice, we want to ensure this doesn't happen again."

He added: "It is unclear what will happen after the Parliamentary Ombudsman reaches a decision. We'd like to recoup the lost funding and be re-admitted to the specialist-funding group we once belonged to.

"We also hope for an acknowledgement about the impact it has had on our city, our culture and that it was a flawed process."

Mark said the 'flawed' process has stopped LIPA doing many of the things it had wanted to do - and has put its long-term future in doubt.

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He said: "We had ideas to do things like buy a music venue in Liverpool to be run by the students, but obviously we can't do that without funding. Imagine what we could have done with [pounds sterling]16m?

"This has made things very tight and we are clinging on - how can we now compete with other institutions who have been given [pounds sterling]16m more than us?"

Mark said he is in regular contact with Sir Paul over the issue, adding: "He feels there has been an injustice and that shouldn't be allowed to happen.

"We want to know if the proper process was followed by a government department - yes or no."

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An Office for Students spokesperson said: " The OfS is cooperating with the Ombudsman's ongoing investigation into decisions made by HEFCE which pre-date the creation of the OfS. This is a live investigation and it would not be appropriate to comment any further."

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Credit: PA

Sir Paul McCartney is angry with a government department
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Publication:Crosby Herald (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 25, 2019
Words:736
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