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BBC Spends £2 million on Travel

BBC LogoIt’s been revealed that the BBC spent over £2 million in travel expenses over the last two years. The broadcaster has paid for over 500 flights and at least 24,000 train journeys for its staff and guests to get between London, Manchester and Salford. This comes to nearly £77,000 for flights and over £1.84 million for trains. The figures come out despite the company vowing to hire more people who live close to the new MediaCity base in Salford.

The corporation has shifted thousands of its employees to the northern headquarters since May 2011 as part of a relocation to the North West. Many of the staff were working from two different sites on a temporary basis. According to figures obtained by the Daily Telegraph under the Freedom of Information Act, the BBC’s bill for train fares rose almost 30% between 2009-10 and 2010-11. However, the amount would be higher if it included journeys paid by workers and then subsequently repaid through the company’s expenses system.

The BBC regularly publishes expenses claimed by senior staff members. This followed criticism three years ago over extravagant spending – which included director general Mark Thompson spending £2,000 to fly back from an Italian holiday early. However, it emerged in January that BBC North director Peter Salmon spent £1,115 on transport between London and Manchester over a three-month (April-June) period last year.

A BBC spokesman said that they are a major broadcasting group with production bases throughout the UK, as well as a new operation that covers a constantly changing international news agenda. This has meant some element travel is inevitable in the business. However, they recognise that they spend public money and work hard to keep this expenditure to a minimum. Some of the booking costs are for multiple passengers, while the information provided from their booking systems don’t detail the number of fares purchased for every booking.

Workers for BBC are required to take trains within mainline Britain, except for when there are time constraints or flights are much cheaper. They can use shuttle buses to travel between BBC sites, as well as early morning and late night transport to work between 10:45pm and 6:30am. These will be paid for by the company when staff are travelling from within a 40-mile radius of their site. If workers are temporarily based somewhere other than their usual base, the BBC will meet excess travel costs.

BBC Breakfast has been moved to the Salford base and had its first broadcast from its new home earlier this week. Presenters Susanna Reid and Bill Turnbull host the show and are entitled to a full relocation package if they choose to live in Manchester, because they are permanent staff. However, Charlie Stayt and Louise Minchin are freelance employees, and any move would be paid out of their pockets.

It’s been reported that 46% of the show’s staff have relocated to Salford. However, they join another 2,200 workers who have also made the move, including staff from BBC Children, BBC Sport, North West Tonight, Radio 5 Live and Radio 6 Music.

 

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