Lord Patten restates BBC plans to cut senior managers

Lord Patten
Image caption Lord Patten said viewers "do not expect BBC bosses to be paid massive salaries"

BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten has restated the corporation's plans to "cut management to 1%", confirming his commitment to a two year old strategy on senior manager pay.

Speaking at the Prix Italia in Turnin, Italy, he said: "There are still too many senior managers, around 2.5% of the workforce at the last count."

He wants the figure to be 1% by 2015.

The strategy was established before Mr Patten started at the corporation in May 2011.

He told delegates at the international TV, radio and online awards that he was keen to "create a smaller group of people more clearly accountable for spending the licence fee".

'Bruising experience'

"It has been, and will continue to be, a painful process, but it is necessary if we are to secure public confidence," he said.

The BBC has had a recent run of negative publicity over the Jimmy Savile scandal and the revelation that 150 senior executives had received £25m in redundancy pay-offs - some £2m more than their contracts stipulated.

Lord Patten, who is also a former governor of Hong Kong, said broadcasters needed to be quicker to hold their hands up when mistakes were made, adding that "the BBC is not alone in having aggravated both financial and editorial lapses in recent years by failing to provide quick and accurate accounts of what actually happened".

He said that it had cost the BBC "a good deal of money to put right" and that "some good people lost their jobs as a result" while "public confidence in our journalism and management was diminished".

"It is a lesson the BBC has learned the hard way. It has been a bruising experience and it is not over yet."

'Paid too much'

The BBC has been reducing costs and staffing numbers since the licence fee was frozen in 2010.

At the time, there were 614 senior managers at the BBC, but by June 2011, that figure was down to 540.

At the end of March 2013, the BBC had reduced its senior manager headcount by 195 and its pay bill by £24.7m.

Its annual report stated it is committed to achieving further reductions in the senior manager pay bill of about £5.5m and reductions in headcount of about 30 by 2015.

The corporation has agreed with the trust to continue the policy of discounting senior manager salaries against the commercial market by between 20% and 80%.

In his speech, the former Conservative Party chairman praised the corporation for becoming more efficient, but said viewers do not expect BBC bosses to be paid massive salaries.

He said that when he started at the BBC, although it was full of "talented and innovative people", he also "found too many bosses who worked hard but were paid too much and presided over processes and relationships of labyrinthine and often unnecessary complexity".

Executive pay is now "falling", he said, adding: "Reward for the director general has been cut by almost 50%. Pensions have been reformed. Private health care is being phased out. But there is further to go."

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