BBC backs down on expenses after protests

Dyke: "we looked at policy again

 

The BBC has announced major changes to its controversial new expenses policy following protests from staff.

The corporation has backed down from enforcing new rules it imposed in February, including a £55 cap on hotel bills and a five-mile rule blocking staff from claiming meal allowances when near a BBC base.

The decision follows a work-to-rule by Bectu members lasting seven weeks which threatened some news reports from outside London’s courts as cameramen and technicians returned to the BBC for their meals.

Under the revised rules, staff can claim for a meal if they are more than five miles away from their own base, rather than any BBC base, as the rules said previously.

Staff in the news and news resources departments and their counterparts in the nations and regions and the World Service will not have to pay tax on meals within five miles of their own base if unable to return to eat at a BBC base for operational reasons.

The cap on hotel bills has been increased by £10 to £65 and staff will be able to combine their lunch and evening meal limits to pay for a more expensive evening meal. Staff no longer have to work 12 hours or longer before they can claim a second meal.

The BBC denies the changes are a climb-down, claiming they reflect its willingness to listen to staff concerns. "We were asked to look again at the policy, and we’ve done just that," said director general Greg Dyke.

The changes take effect immediately. Bectu members are expected to take part in a postal ballot to decide if they will accept the new rules.

By Julie Tomlin

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