Almost 200 BBC executives given pay-offs of more than 100,000 EACH in just three years

BBC to be investigated by watchdog over revelations that 200 executives received pay-offs of 100,000 EACH in just three years
A total of 14 senior managers pocketed more than 300,000 eachHighest individual payment was 949,000 to Mark Byford
MPs said losing a well-paid job at BBC is like 'winning the lottery'

By
Simon Cable

PUBLISHED:

05:04 GMT, 26 December 2012

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UPDATED:

01:13 GMT, 27 December 2012

The BBC is to be investigated by the National Audit Office after it emerged that almost 200 of the corporation’s managers have been handed payoffs of 100,000 each in the past three years.

The watchdog is to examine the scale of severance packages in the New Year after MPs recently claimed that losing a job at the BBC was like ‘winning the lottery’.

The move comes after it was revealed that the BBC’s former Director General, George Entwistle, received a 450,000 exit package when he left the job last month – double what he was entitled to.

'Winning the lottery': The National Audit Office is to examine the scale of severance packages in the New Year

'Winning the lottery': The National Audit Office is to examine the scale of severance packages in the New Year

New figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that since 2010, 194 executives have been given 100,000 payoffs.

The corporation also used more than 6million of licence-fee payers’ money to pay 14 executives more than 300,000 each.

The figures reveal that redundancy payoffs almost doubled to 58million between 2010 and 2011.
In 2010, 481 BBC staff received redundancy payments worth a total of
27million, while last year, 1,281 staff were handed payoffs totalling
58million. In the first six months of 2012, 270 staff members were
given 14million. The average payout for departing BBC workers was
51,000.

It means that in total, the
corporation has paid 277million in redundancy to almost 6,000 staff in
the past seven years. Four executives have taken more than 8.5million
in payouts and pension deals with them in the past two years alone.

The highest individual payment was 949,000, which went to former deputy director-general Mark Byford, pictured, as compensation for loss of office

The highest individual payment was 949,000, which went to former deputy director-general Mark Byford, pictured, as compensation for loss of office

A spokesman for the NAO, which
scrutinises public spending on behalf of parliament, said it will begin
an investigation in severance packages at the corporation as part of its
New Year programme, saying: ‘It is our intention that it will in the
programme.’

MPs were left ‘incredulous’ when
learning that former chief operating officer Caroline Thomson left with a
670,000 pay-off in September – more than twice her 330,000 salary –
even though she had wanted to quit.

Sharon Bayley, the former director of
marketing, communications and audiences, left in October 2010. She was
given a payout worth nearly 400,000, despite having been at the BBC for
less than two years.

The biggest payoff was awarded to
Mark Byford, the former director of journalism, who received 949,000,
while an unnamed finance officer was given a 420,000 payoff.

A spokesman for the BBC Trust said
today: ‘The Chairman previously suggested that it would be useful for
the NAO to look not just at the package George Entwistle received, but
at severance pay in the BBC more widely. We have received their schedule
of work for 2013 and we are pleased to see that they will take this
approach in a planned review for next year.

‘Work will begin on this as soon as
possible and we will, as always, ensure the NAO are given full access to
all the information they require to carry out this review.’

A BBC spokesman added: ‘The BBC is in
the process of reducing its senior management numbers, which have come
down by around 25 per cent and senior management paybill, which has come
down by around 30 per cent. Some of this has been achieved by
redundancy.

‘While these redundancies involve
costs in the short term, in the long term they represent savings for the
corporation as these roles are not replaced.’

Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of
the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: ‘It would appear that George Entwistle’s
much-publicised pay-off was only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to
eye-watering BBC severance packages.

‘The NAO is right to be looking at
this issue as a matter of urgency and Lord Patten should expect to face
serious questions about how these golden goodbyes can represent good
value for licence fee payers’ money.

‘As families up and down the country
have to tighten their own belts, the Corporation needs to do the same.
Redundancy deals like these are not the norm in the private sector and
they are unacceptable at the BBC.’