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BFC cash crisis looms as Vaizey says sorry for ‘cock-up’

Culture minister Ed Vaizey has privately apologised to the British Fashion Council for a Treasury “cock-up” that has left London Fashion Week short of funding, Drapers understands.

The BFC received a £4.2m government grant over three years, which runs out at the end of this financial year - just after February’s LFW. The funding accounts for about a fifth of the BFC’s income, according to documents filed at Companies House.

Vaizey had previously indicated his support for the BFC and LFW, which it runs. It also organises the British Fashion Awards, which took place this week in London.

However, he has since apologised to BFC officials over a Treasury decision to axe the London Development Agency without fully calculating the knock-on effect for events like LFW. Sources claimed Vaizey was “very embarrassed”. He has since referred the BFC to the Treasury for its funding plea.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said in a statement: “The long-term plan was always for London Fashion Week to be self-sustaining. The LDA’s initial funding of £4.2m over three years has enabled the BFC to make progress towards a vision of future sustainability, through the development of commercial sponsorship and new membership framework.

“We understand the Greater London Authority, which has taken over responsibility for support for Fashion Week, is in conversation with the Treasury about their [the BFC’s] future settlement.”

BFC chairman Harold Tillman declined to speculate on how long the negotiations might take or how they were progressing, but said: “They [the Government] need time to understand the value of the fashion industry to them. There is no immediacy for them to commit but there is a plan to work on together.”

Tillman also downplayed the potential funding gap. “We’ve always known the LDA grant was for a period of time. It’s not like it was taken away from us halfway through and we haven’t got any money. We are talking to the Government but at the same time we aren’t too shy to go to the private sector,” he said.

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