£1.1m temp accommodation bill for Salford

MediaCityUK, Salford

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The BBC has spent nearly £1.1 million on temporary accommodation for staff who have moved from London to Salford.

Around 131 properties are currently rented by recipients of the Remote Location Allowance (RLA), at a cost of £596,450 so far.

It was also revealed that £402,737 was spent on 197 properties rented for a maximum of three months by staff waiting to complete their relocation.

The top five rents ranged between £950 and £1,699 per month.

A further £85,000 was incurred on behalf of staff staying in hotels or serviced apartments, as they waited to move into rented property, or for those not required to work a full working week in Salford, if it was a cheaper alternative.

The figures were revealed to the Manchester Evening News under the Freedom of Information Act.

According to BBC North's relocation policy, a monthly gross RLA of up to £1,900 is available to staff who owned property when they worked in London and intend to keep it for no more than two years.

If recipients choose to remain working in Salford and buy a property, they will be eligible for tax-free financial support on allowable expenses up to £8000.

A BBC spokesperson said rentals were approved "according to family size and circumstances".

NAO review

Around 2300 staff have moved to the new hub in Salford since May 2011, including Sport, Radio 5 live and Children's from London, plus shows like Dragons' Den and Mastermind from the former BBC Manchester.

Sport staff Salford staff include the Sport teams delivering the BBC's 24 Olympic streams

It was recently revealed that the BBC's hotel bill for people staying in Greater Manchester rose from £744,890 to £1.9m between the financial years 2010/11 and 2011/12.

The costs were incurred by staff, contractors and programme guests visiting or working at MediaCityUK but expenses are expected to fall in the current financial year now that the first migration wave is complete.

More than £850,000 was also spent on travel to Greater Manchester between May and December last year. Overall the implementation of the BBC operation in MediaCityUK, including relocation, cost £180m.

The National Audit Office is conducting a review on the Salford move, including an assessment of the relocation's budget and timetable, which will be published in the winter.

Another 1000 staff are due to move from London to MediaCityUK before 2017, including BBC Three, as the corporation seeks to make more than 50% of network output outside the capital.

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