BBC cuts booze and 1st class tickets in £50m economy drive

BBC employees and executives will not longer be able to claim for booze on expenses, nor first class train tickets and expensive lunches. The UK’s public service broadcaster aims to save £50 million as it tries to address a £150 million short fall by the end of 2016.

In an email addressed to staff, Anne Bulford, BBC’s managing director, wrote:

“The cost cutting plan comes with the aim of reducing complexity and making sure that we are fit for the future. We told you about a £150m budget shortfall in this charter period as a result of lower than predicted licence fee income.”

“We also told you we would start work over the summer to address £50m of this from areas that should not affect content or services for audiences. These areas are merging divisions; reducing layers and reviewing senior management; reviewing professional and support areas; and simplifying and standardising policies and processes.”

Some BBC executives are in for a massive shock.

Staff will not be allowed to claim taxi journeys in central London or business class air travel. A number of job titles will probably be cut.

Business class air travel will only be covered if a member of staff is flying overnight for over eight hours and has to hit the ground running (work as soon as he or she lands). All flights lasting less than six hours will only be reimbursed at economy class rates.

Employees on flights lasting longer than six hours will be able to claim for premium economy.

No more taxis … unless…

Taxi bills for 2014 totalled nearly £12 million. BBC staff have claimed about £34 million in taxi expenses for the past three years.

Taxi travel will only be paid for by the broadcaster if the employee is moving heavy kit, has medical needs or is on a news story. This will apply to all employees, unless a member of staff has a contractual perk.

Lunch expenses will no longer be covered, neither will alcohol consumption at home or abroad. Therefore, journalists interviewing sources will have to do so outside restaurants if they don’t want to pay for the meals themselves.

Big shock for some executives

Some high-spending executives will be in for a shock. Alan Yentob, BBC’s creative director enjoyed a £3,381 class flight on business class to New York in 2010, plus a £1,600 Christmas dinner.

According to The Times, Mr. Yentob clocked up £84,930.39 in expenses between 2009 and 2014.

The Times quoted a BBC spokesperson, who said:

“With the financial challenges the BBC is facing, it’s more important than ever to get maximum value from every penny of the licence fee. These proposals will help create a simpler, more efficient, BBC while ensuring staff are not out of pocket for the essential costs incurred in doing their jobs.”