Hunt: 'BBC bribing staff to relocate'

Monday, November 9 2009, 13:23 GMT

By Andrew Laughlin,

Shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has accused the BBC of bribing its London staff with taxpayers' money to relocate to the corporation's new base in the North West.

According to Hunt, around 427 staff scheduled to make the move from London Television Centre to the BBC North facility in Salford Quays have been told that they can retain their London weighting payment of up to £4,080 for the rest of their BBC careers.

The approach could cost the corporation and, therefore, the licence fee payer around £40 million in addition to the £170m already being spent on renting the MediaCityUK premises from Peel Holdings.

"For the BBC to be using licence-fee payers' money in this way beggars belief," said Hunt.

"Money should be spent on producing great programmes, not bribing people who want to stay in London to move to Salford."

Commenting on the move, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development spokesman Charles Cotton said that it was not common practice for employers to keep supporting London allowances during relocations. "This sounds like having your cake and eating it," he remarked.

Staggered over the coming years, BBC Sport, children's and Radio 5 Live teams will all move to BBC North in a move designed to save money in the long-term.