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BBC paid ‘excessive’ staff relocation costs for Salford move

mediacityThe BBC has been criticised for paying some staff “excessive” allowances for relocating to its Salford offices – and is warned it risks being ‘over dependent’ on Peel Holdings.

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said the scale of some allowances for 850 staff who relocated were “difficult to justify”.

The committee’s report said relocation costs for 11 staff members exceeded £100,000 per person, with one costing £150,000. The average relocation cost was £28,000.

And the report goes on to suggest the BBC “risks becoming overly dependent” on the Peel Group which owns the BBC’s Salford buildings.

You can read the full committee report here.

Margaret Hodge, who chairs the committee, told The Guardian that BBC managers gave too much financial leeway to staff who wished to move to Salford. “They spent far too much; it was ridiculous. They should have been much tougher [on staff] – if they did not want to move, they should have left the BBC.”

It also said signing a 10-year contract to use TV studios was “risky” because the pace of technological change could see the BBC having to pay for studio services it did not need.

“The BBC locked itself into a 10-year contract for studio space at Salford and committed to a guaranteed minimum annual spend during the contract term,” the report says. “The pace of technological change in the broadcasting sector means that the BBC could end up having to pay for studio services that it no longer needs. In the first year of this contract the BBC underspent on one type of studio service by £500,000.”

But the committee said the BBC “did a good job” overall, completing the move on time and within the £224m budget.

A BBC statement said it was pleased the committee had “recognised BBC North was delivered on time, under budget and with no break in services”.

“We have just celebrated two years of award-winning TV, radio and online content and the whole region is sharing in the momentum of MediaCity with spend by the public service broadcast channels in the region up from 15.9% to 20%.”

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