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29/09/2011

BBC Set To Slash Redundancy Terms

£1m BBC redundancy packages are likely to be outlawed under proposals being put forward to the BBC Trust as part of the national broadcaster's Delivering Quality First strategy.
Now, there's a major public consultation set to get underway early in October after BBC boss Mark Thompson spelt out the expected end of many generous and large redundancy packages and bonuses.
The Director-general said back in April that he aimed at finding 20% savings by April 2017.
Generous redundancy terms at the BBC had been set at one month's pay for every year of service.
Now, the wide-ranging review has finalised its proposals - following an agreement reached with the Government last October to freeze the BBC licence fee at £145.50 for six years.
The expected changes also include shorter notice periods as well as the mooted reduction in the existing 'four-weeks-per-year accrual rate', but the package will not be cut as far as the statutory minimum.
The BBC unpredictability allowance - for those who work unusual hours - is also being reviewed to ensure the right staff are actually being rewarded.
The BBC Trust wants the new package to be introduced before the end of the year, and applied to anyone being made redundant as part of the same cost-saving exercise.
The BBC Trust, led by Lord Patten, aims to support the BBC and guard its independence - and also "works to get the best out of the BBC for licence fee payers".
The Trust is made up of the Chairman, a Vice Chairman and 10 Trustees. Four Trustees take special responsibility for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Now, as part of the overall Delivering Quality First plan, the Trust is set to fulfil its remit by recommending the introduction of a limit to the amount of redundancy pay.
While the cap has to be finalised, it could be as low as two years' salary or £75,000, it has been reported.
The recommendation is understood to be one of several that have been put forward to the Trust ahead of the public consultation, which starts on 6 October.
Last year, the media and broadcast union, BECTU accused the BBC of "caving in to Government pressure" by accepting October's major cutbacks confirmed in the 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review.
Speaking at the time, BECTU's Gerry Morrissey said: "We are concerned that the BBC's relationship with Government is altered."
Specifically on the initial freezing of the licence fee and all the cut-backs that would entail - and that are now beginning to take effect - he added: "Whatever senior managers may say, the BBC's independence is compromised both by the content of this agreement and by the manner in which the deal was secured."
(BMcC/CD)
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