BBC severance payoffs rise to four-year high of £25.9 million

Tony hallWPA Pool/Getty ImagesBBC director general Tony Hall.

The BBC took a £25.9 million ($34 million) hit on golden goodbyes for staff in 2015/16 — the highest level since the UK broadcaster faced criticism for dishing out payoffs of up to £1 million ($1.3 million) for senior staff in 2013.

The BBC’s spend on severance packages in the 12 months to the end of March 2016 was up 43.9% on its £18 million ($23.7 million) outlay on payoffs over the same period last year, according to the broadcaster’s annual report, which was published today.

It was also at the highest level since the BBC’s 2012/13 financial year, when it racked up costs of £40.2 million ($52.9 million) on golden goodbyes.

The increase came despite BBC director general Tony Hall introducing a £150,000 ($197,000) cap on payoffs for staff soon after he joined the broadcaster in April 2013.

He put the limit in place because the BBC was heavily criticised by MPs and licence fee payers for excessive severance payments, including £1 million ($1.3 million) for former deputy director general Mark Byford in 2011. Former director general George Entwistle also walked away with £470,000 ($617,000) after just 54 days in the job in 2012.

The rise in payoffs to £25.9 million ($34 million) can, in part, be explained by a greater number of staff being laid off as the BBC looks to cut costs as part of efforts to save £800 million ($1.05 billion) a year. Some 448 staff were laid off in 2015/16, compared with 303 last year, according to the BBC’s annual report.

Of this figure of £25.9 million, 75 employees received payoffs of between £100,000 and £150,000, totalling £9.8 million ($12.9 million). Severance payments above £75,000 ($98,000) are signed off by the BBC’s senior remuneration committee.

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