BBC pension deficit to cost licence fee payers '£100m a year'

Paying off the BBC’s £2bn pension fund deficit could cost £100m of the licence fee each year, it emerged today.

According to the Telegraph – quoting figures carried in the BBC’s in-house magazine Ariel (not online) – the corporation is expected to increase the amount it spends on pensions contributions from its current level of £140m to £240m, even if proposed cuts to cap pensions are implemented.

The increase to deal with the pension deficit could see the amount dedicated to pensions in the BBC’s annual budget rise from 3.5 per cent to between five or six per cent.

The pensions issue is proving particularly thorny for director general Mark Thompson who attempted to curtail staff anger about planned changes to the pension scheme last week by proposing to scrap pension top-up payments made to senior executives, totalling around £1m each year.

The BBC is planning to deal with its pension deficit by closing the staff defined benefit pension scheme to new joiners and capping contributions of existing members to just a one per cent increase per year from next April, a move which has greatly angered staff and pushed the unions towards possible strike action.

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