BBC budget blunders blamed for job cuts

Griffee: listed reasons for cuts

There is anger in the BBC’s English regional centres after the corporation announced plans to cut up to 56 jobs – despite a £22m budget increase last year.

Broadcasting unions claim BBC management should have been able to foresee increased expenditure, which has led to the staff cutbacks.

In a letter to staff, BBC English regions controller Andy Griffee said redundancies were necessary because of a rise in the cost of renting properties, additional spending on salaries, increased national insurance and pensions contributions and a growth in post-September 11 insurance costs.

But the joint NUJ/Bectu chapel in Newcastle has rejected this explanation, questioning the fact the no cuts are being made at directorate level and claiming that all the budget problems could have been forecast.

“The national insurance rise was signalled a year ago by the Chancellor, the nationally negotiated pay rise at the BBC’s insistence had been agreed before and the property review is a regular five-year event. We can only assume management is unable to properly budget from year to year and its staff are now being told they will pay with their jobs,” the chapel said.

The job losses will hit the BBC English regions’ 3,200 staff, across 50 centres, including broadcast technology employees in Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester.

A BBC spokesman said only a “handful” of staff would be affected at each centre and the cuts would be based on voluntary redundancies where possible.

“We seem to be pretty confident that, in most cases, that will be possible. Even at this early stage it appears that quite a number of volunteers have already been identified. If we find cases where there is a post that needs to be closed and there is no volunteer for redundancy, then we would look at other options, such as finding other jobs within the BBC. We’re anxious to avoid compulsory redundancy at all costs if we can.”

By Sarah Boden

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