BBC accused of 'bribing' staff over London to Manchester move

The BBC has been accused of "bribing" its staff to move from London to a new centre in Manchester by letting them keep the allowance they are paid to work in the capital.

Staff from the five departments moving from Television Centre in west London to rented premises in Salford Quays have been told they can keep the London weighting payment of up to 4,080 that they currently receive.

Assuming that the 427 staff who are moving have an average age of 35, and the minimum payment is 3,537, the agreement could end up costing the corporation and by extension the taxpayer as much as 40m.

The cost will come in addition to the 170m the corporation is thought to be spending to rent the MediaCityUK premises in Manchester from Peel Holdings, a private company until 2030.

A spokesman for the BBC confirmed that staff relocating would be able to keep their London weightings until retirement, in line with "common practice".

"It would be unreasonable to expect staff to take a reduction in earnings as part of this process," he said.

But Jeremy Hunt, the shadow culture secretary, said the money could be better spent elsewhere.

"For the BBC to be using licence-fee payers' money in this way beggars belief. Money should be spent on producing great programmes, not bribing people who want to stay in London to move to Salford," he said.

Charles Cotton, from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development which advises employers on how to reward staff, said it was not "common practice" to allow workers relocating to keep their capital allowance, especially if they are also given a relocation allowance. "This sounds like having your cake and eating it," he said.

The move to Manchester, designed to save money and make the corporation less London-centric, will involve BBC Sport, the children's division and Radio 5 Live.