Entertainment & Arts

BBC reveals more redundancy payouts

New Broadcasting House
Image caption The NAO found that the BBC had breached its own policies on severance

The BBC has revealed further details of severance payments where senior staff received more than their entitlement.

Eight staff were paid an additional £143,000 in the three years to December 2012, according to an investigation by the National Audit Office.

A separate report published by auditors KPMG looking into severance pay between July 2006 and December 2009 found over-spending of £1.5m on another 30 cases.

Added to figures already disclosed, it means £2.9m was overpaid in 2006-12.

The NAO's latest report was requested by the Public Accounts Committee, after an initial study, published in July, showed the BBC had paid 14 staff more than it was contractually obliged to.

It looked at a further 90 severance payments in the period 2009-12, in addition to the 60 previously examined.

In its first report, the NAO criticised the BBC for paying out a total of £25m in severance to 150 senior BBC managers. The top 10 payments in that period accounted for 20% of the total

The follow-up stated: "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 £1.4m."

Public confidence

It continued: "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."

In 18 of the additional 90 cases examined, the NAO said severance deals had been offered "before the supporting business cases had been through the relevant scrutiny and approval process".

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

The BBC also paid £687,333 in redundancy to executive member Jana Bennett, after she left a position at BBC Worldwide, the corporation's commercial arm.

The report stated that Worldwide was "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".

However, the BBC reversed its decision and recovered the money from BBC Worldwide in August.

BBC director general Tony Hall said the latest investigations confirmed that the processes around approvals and record keeping "were just not good enough".

"Today's reports do not, however, uncover significant new failings," he added.

The BBC announced in April that it was consulting staff on capping redundancy payments at £150,000 or 12 months' salary, whichever is lower.

Lord Hall said a review of severance deals agreed over the next two years was underway and the findings would be published in the BBC annual report.

"I want to make sure that the BBC does everything it can to give the public confidence we are managing their money in the right way," he said.

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