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Paul McCartney hits out at ‘flawed’ funding process alleged to have cost LIPA £16m in funding

Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts
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Paul McCartney has accused a government funding body of having a “flawed process” that has seen the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts miss out on a potential £16 million of funding.

The Parliamentary Ombudsman is currently investigating the decision-making process of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, which has now been replaced by the Office for Students.

According to LIPA, which McCartney co-founded, the institution has lost out on £16 million in potential funding over a four-year period due to a “series of errors” by the government body. LIPA says it has also lost a further £160,000, which has been spent on the first steps of a judicial review.

When applying for institution-specific funding in 2016, LIPA claims it was “failed at the first stage of the process” and was only allowed to proceed to the second stage following an appeal. By this time it discovered “all the funding had already been allocated”.

According to LIPA, HEFCE wrongly advised the institution that the decision-making process could not be challenged, so the drama school began a judicial review.

McCartney, lead patron at LIPA, who co-founded the drama school 24 years ago with Mark Featherstone-Witty, 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.”

He added: “LIPA is my passion and part of my legacy. It would not be fair to allow injustice to affect its future. I sincerely hope the government will correct this error and help us to continue our work successfully into the future.”

Co-founder and principal Featherstone-Witty said: “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 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.”

Featherstone-Witty added it is unclear what will happen following the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s decision, but LIPA hopes to recoup the lost funding and be re-admitted to the specialist funding group, which it is no longer part of having not received funding in this round.

A spokeswoman for the Office for Students said: “The Office for Students is cooperating with the ombudsman’s ongoing investigation into decisions made by HEFCE, which pre-date the creation of the Office for Students.

“This is a live investigation and it would not be appropriate to comment any further.”

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