BBC should cap salaries at £150k, says new Culture Secretary

Simon Austin's picture
by Simon Austin

New Culture Secretary Matthew Hancock has said the BBC should consider capping the pay of its top talent at £150,000 in line with the rest of the public sector.

Last week China editor Carrie Gracie resigned from her post - even though she will remain at the BBC - after discovering she was earning up to £45,000 less than her male peers.

But Hancock, who vowed to raise the issue with Director General Tony Hall at a meeting in the coming weeks, said equal pay “isn’t just about levelling up women’s pay in the BBC, it’s about equal pay and a reasonable level”.

He added: “We’ve got to have equal pay for equal jobs and I think that the BBC has a special responsibility to lead and be a beacon because this issue is broader than the BBC.

“Across the rest of the public sector we brought in rules to say that except in exceptional circumstances people who are paid for by taxpayers’ money shouldn’t be paid more than the Prime Minister.

“Well, the BBC of course is responsible for its own pay and I think that it missed a chance to bring in that kind of rule when we brought it in for the rest of the public sector a few years ago, so now it has to go through a special process to pay somebody more than the Prime Minister. 

“Of course, there are sometimes circumstances where that’s necessary. But if you think about it this way – in a country where people are paid for by the taxpayer, who should we be paying the most to? Is it the BBC editor or is it the ambassador? 

“The generals are also making a very good point that people in the armed services put their life on the line and yet they abide by the public sector pay norms, which is not to have excessive pay and where the Prime Minister’s pay is seen as a guide at the top.”