BBC spends £26m on severance payments... reduces headcount by 54

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The BBC today published its annual report for 2015/16 (Source: Getty)

The BBC spent £25.9m on severance payments in 2015/16, a 43.6 per cent year-on-year increase.

The total was spread across 448 staff, with 75 of them receiving between £100,000 and £150,000. In 2014/15, 303 staff were paid £18m in severance payments.

However, the BBC’s annual report showed the corporation’s average annual headcount in 2015/16 reduced by 54, from 18,974 to 18,920 in 2015/16. And the headcount figure is now greater than the 18,674 in 2013/14.

Read more: Job cuts, celeb pay and savings: What we learned in the BBC annual report

Harry Davis, campaign manager at the TaxPayers' Alliance, told City A.M.: "The BBC absolutely needed to cut down on its bloated staffing numbers but it is disappointing to see such a jump in redundancy payments without a significant reduction in personnel.

“All publicly funded organisations must be able to justify every penny of our money that they spend and BBC bosses must make sure that poor or unaccountable governance structures have not led to inflated contractual pay-offs.

“Only by committing to full transparency can the BBC prove to the public that it is committed to delivering long term savings and not wasting licence fee payers' cash on unnecessary payments."

The BBC said it had closed 437 posts during the year, but created several others.

The report also trumpeted the fact the corporation senior management headcount has been reduced from 401 to 356, with a total paybill of £47m, down from £52m. However, this means that the average pay of a senior manager has increased, from £129,676 to £132,022 a year.

Read more: Government stops short of "castrating" BBC with white paper

The annual report also showed that the BBC has cut its paybill for “talent” – a definition that includes stars such as Chris Evans, Graham Norton and Gary Lineker – from £208.4m to £200m.

The BBC does not disclose individual talent pay, but does report the salaries of senior management. For instance, director general Tony Hall’s base pay is £450,000.

Across the corporation as a whole, salaries and wages totalled £990m, up from £976.5m. Median earnings of staff increased from £42,000 to £43,000.

A BBC spokesman said: “During the last year we closed 437 roles, and many more are in train. We also brought 175 roles in house as part of cost savings and there were a number of other roles such as IT specialists and apprenticeships which were added during the year. Overall we had 200 fewer roles at the year-end compared to 2015 but this isn’t fully reflected in the average headcount figure for the year. It’s inevitable that when we’re cutting posts to create a simpler and leaner BBC and make long term savings, the amount of severance pay will go up.”

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