Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

BBC pay-offs £1.4m more than needed

The BBC paid more salary in lieu of notice than it was contractually obliged to in 22 cases, according to a report

Senior managers at the BBC were paid £1.4 million more than their contracts demanded in pay-offs over a three-year period, according to a new report.

The National Audit Office (NAO) examined a further 90 severance payments made to corporation bosses after its initial study of 60 cases, published earlier this year, showed some staff were paid more than they were entitled to.

The report states: "Across all 150 severance payments to senior managers in the three years to December 2012, the BBC paid more salary in lieu of notice than it was contractually obliged to in 22 cases, at a total cost of £1.4 million."

The NAO said that in 18 of the additional 90 cases, severance deals had been agreed "before the supporting business cases had been through the relevant scrutiny and approval process".

It said: "In one case, approval to pay severance of £141,000 was not provided until after the payment was made."

The BBC also paid £687,333 in redundancy to executive Jana Bennett, a former head of television at the corporation, after she left a new position at its commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, before it "reversed its decision and recovered the money".

The report stated that Worldwide is "responsible for meeting its own redundancy costs" but the BBC "met the cost in this case on the understanding that it had committed to do so as part of the individual's move from an executive director post at the BBC to a senior role at BBC Worldwide Limited in 2011". The BBC got its money back from Worldwide last month.

Ms Bennett hit the headlines in 2009 when she claimed £500 on her BBC expenses to replace a stolen handbag.

In its conclusion to the report, the NAO states: "The results of our examination of a further 90 severance cases confirm the conclusion set out in our earlier report, namely that weak governance arrangements led to payments that exceeded contractual entitlements, provided poor value for money and put public trust at risk."

It also highlighted the case of a senior manager who received a pay-off of £179,200, but then returned to the BBC for 20 days and was paid £9,650.

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