The BBC has spent nearly £60m on hotels for guests and staff in less than seven years, City A.M. can reveal.
New figures for the corporation’s annual hotel bill show that over £5.8m was spent in the first half of 2016.
If this level of spending continues for the rest of the year, the BBC is on track to rack up its highest hotel bill for guest and staff since 2010.
The figures, which were obtained through a freedom of information request, do not include any extra costs like meals.
Over £8.2m was spent last year on hotel bookings compared to £10.3m in 2014 and £9.3m the year before.
In 2012, the year London hosted the Olympics, the corporation spent more than £8.4m.
The BBC claims that it has introduced “strict guidelines” on hotel bookings and has reduced its average spend on hotel rooms by £54 since 2010 a year when its hotel bill stood at £8.6m.
However, Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrat London assembly member, slammed the corporation’s claim saying: “I find it hard to understand how the BBC can claim to have cut since 2010 the average hotel room cost by £54 when at the same time its total bill for hotel rooms for 2016 is set to be 50 per cent higher than 2010.
“I am a great supporter of the BBC and believe it plays a fundamental role in our society. Certainly no one suggests you can have a broadcaster reporting on major events and filming around the world without having staff staying in hotels from time to time.
“However the BBC needs to recognise that its important remit is never an excuse for reckless expenditure of public money. As a friend of the BBC I ask that they explain in detail how they have managed to spend £60m on hotel bills since 2010.”
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John O'Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, called on the BBC to avoid “flashy hotels” and bring costs down.
He said: “The BBC reports on events at both home and abroad and so some overnight stay will be inevitable but costs still need to be kept low. The £145-a-year licence fee is a heavy burden on hard-pressed families and it should be spent by BBC officials as if the money was their own. When savings need to be made, Beeb bosses must find ways to bring costs down and that means avoiding flashy hotels to impress staff or guests.”
A BBC spokesman said: “There are now strict guidelines on hotel bookings that have brought the average room cost down by £54 since 2010. BBC journalists and programme-makers need stay somewhere when they are expected to report on major events and breaking global news or film things like natural history on location around the world."