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BBC fails pledge to cut senior management posts

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26 April 2017

The BBC has failed to meet a goal to reduce the proportion of senior managers to 1 per cent total of its workforce, a report by the public financial watchdog, the National Audit Office, has found.

The number of senior management being paid more than £150,000 has also risen from 89 in January 2012 to 98 in March 2016. The BBC had pledged to reduce the number by 20 per cent.

However,  the National Audit Ofice (NAO) report,  Managing the BBC’s workforce, did say the corporation was offering better value for money in the way it had managed its staff overall.

Another report from the Public Accounts Committee was critical of Capita for its poor record on cracking down on licence fee evasion. About three million enforcement visits took place in 2015-16, but 18 per cent fewer evaders were caught.  It suggested up to £291m a year was being lost because of people not paying the £147 licence fee.

Séamus Dooley, NUJ acting general secretary, said:

"We certainly welcome the finding that the BBC is securing better value for money in the way it manages it workforce and notes that despite redundancies of 3,400 staff, at a cost of £190 million, its output of TV and digital services have increased. This has been possible only by the hard work and commitment of BBC staff.
"The BBC is very often a soft target for critics and this report should inform public discourse on broadcasting. Our members will be disappointed at the slow pace of change at the top and the report confirms our worst suspicions in this regard. It also highlights public policy failures in respect of funding.”

Sue Harris, NUJ broadcasting organiser said:

"The report shows that parts of the BBC have been hit harder than others by the cuts, with the number of staff in the television division falling by 22 per cent from 2,675 to 2,085, between 2011 and 2016.
"But most concerning has been the corporation's failure to reduce by 20 per cent the number of senior staff. In January 2012, 89 senior managers earned more than £150,000. But by March 2016, this had risen to 98.
"The NUJ, which has seen its members hit by wave upon wave of budget and job cuts, has long argued for the layers of management to be cut and resources concentrated on the front-line of programming and news gathering.
"This is all particularly worrying because of the disastrous licence fee deal agreed by the BBC, which includes funding free licence fees for the over-75s at a cost of £1.3bn over five years, then £750m each year. The deal puts the BBC’s director general in charge of a benefit previously administered by the Department of Work and Pensions.
"To put the over-75s deal into perspective, the £750m a year is almost seven times the cost of all 39 BBC local radio stations in England and more than eight times the budget for BBC Radio 4.
"The BBC has said it needs to reduce its costs by £800m a year by 2021-22, which must inevitably lead to more job losses. The NAO points out that given all the savings already made it will be much harder to make further 'efficiencies' without taking some radical options in order to stay within its budget.

"This next charter period looks to be one of the toughest ever."

The BBC said it is no longer trying to meet the £150,000 target and believed it was more relevant to look at the number of senior managers who are paid more than £170,000. The union also noted that the NAO had rumbled the BBC for concealing highly-paid staff in grade 11, which is not a senior staff grade.

The report showed that:

  • From 2010-11 to 2015-16, the BBC reduced the cost of its payroll workforce by 6 per cent in real terms and the size of its payroll workforce by 4 per cent. In 2015-16, the BBC employed an average of 18,920 full-time equivalent staff in its public service broadcasting functions, compared to 19,767 in 2010-11.
  • The cost of salaries and wages for staff in these functions fell in real terms by £59 million from £921 million in 2010-11 to £862 million in 2015-16 (in 2015-16 prices). Over this period, the BBC made 3,400 staff redundant at a cost of £190 million. In 2011, the BBC envisaged that it would become a significantly smaller organisation with a net loss of about 2,000 payroll posts over five years. By 2015-16, the workforce had fallen by 847 staff, with reductions beyond this level offset by increases, most notably in digital and technological roles to support services such as the iPlayer and to allow greater personalisation of BBC content.
  •  In the period from 2010-11 to 2015-16, the BBC did not monitor or report in a consistent way on the number and cost of all types of ‘variable staff’ (freelance and agency workers), meaning it was not possible for the NAO to assess how its total requirement for people has changed over time. Amongst the NAO’s recommendations is that the BBC should measure and report on its variable staff on a consistent basis from year to year.
  • According to the NAO report, the BBC has successfully reduced the overall number and cost of its senior managers, but has not met two related senior management commitments. Between 2010-11 and 2015-16, it succeeded in reducing the senior management pay bill by £17.1 million (27 per cent) from £64.1 million to £47 million. However, the number of senior managers earning more than £150,000 was higher in March 2016 (98) than in January 2012 (89), despite a commitment to reduce the number by 20 per cent.
  • Staff numbers in the grade immediately below senior management have increased by 7 per cent since 2011. There was a net increase of 47 in the number of grade 11 staff from 679 in March 2011 to 726 in December 2016.
  • The BBC had not reduced the proportion of senior managers to 1 per cent of the workforce by 2015 as intended - in December 2016, senior managers represented 1.6 per cent of the workforce.
  • In December 2016, 53 per cent of BBC staff were located outside London, compared to its target of 50 per cent.

Tags: , bbc, national audit office, public accounts committee, licence fee, senior management, cuts, capita, broadcasting