BBC splash out on consultants and hotels

September 27, 2011 9:45 AM

The BBC spent more than £8 million on consultants in 2010-11 despite huge cuts to programming and job losses. Figures obtained by the Telegraph under Freedom of Information laws reveal the extent to which the BBC indulged in advice estimated to be the equivalent of producing one of their flagship dramas like Spooks, or 54,983 licence fees.

A more detailed itemisation of the expenditure shows £769,045 was spent on “change management” and £1.9 million on “strategy”.

Tracey Morris, head of sourcing at BBC procurement, defended the expenditure:

"The BBC in common with other large organisations does employ consultants but only when we need specialist advice and resource on projects that are outside of the normal course of our business and where it would not be cost efficient to maintain those specialist skills in-house."

The problem is the BBC is not like any other large organisation. It is funded by a tax on televisions and has a responsibility to spend every penny carefully.

Earlier this year the BBC sent more than 250 staff to cover an event marking the start of the one year countdown to the Olympics, 10 times more than their biggest news rival.

Michael Crick, former Political Editor of Newsnight warned that spending cuts might damage leading BBC programmes. But there are clearly visible cuts to make which needn’t affect programming or news production and their lavish spending sheds some light on their priorities. In another Telegraph story over the weekend, it was revealed that the BBC booked more than 1,600 nights of accommodation to house its staff when staging Radio One’s Big Weekend. Overall more than 210 staff were sent to Carlisle, some up to 2 weeks prior to the event amounting to 1,437 night of accommodation for Radio One staff and 190 for BBC television employees.

It is not surprising the BBC has been heavily criticised for out of control spending when attending major events. A National Audit Office report has criticised the BBC for not knowing in advance how much attending or staging events such as Glastonbury and Radio One’s Big Weekend will cost.

With a licence fee which leaves little change from £150, the BBC needs to act immediately to bring costs down. Thoughtless spending cannot continue.The BBC spent more than £8 million on consultants in 2010-11 despite huge cuts to programming and job losses. Figures obtained by the Telegraph under Freedom of Information laws reveal the extent to which the BBC indulged in advice estimated to be the equivalent of producing one of their flagship dramas like Spooks, or 54,983 licence fees.

A more detailed itemisation of the expenditure shows £769,045 was spent on “change management” and £1.9 million on “strategy”.

Tracey Morris, head of sourcing at BBC procurement, defended the expenditure:

"The BBC in common with other large organisations does employ consultants but only when we need specialist advice and resource on projects that are outside of the normal course of our business and where it would not be cost efficient to maintain those specialist skills in-house."

The problem is the BBC is not like any other large organisation. It is funded by a tax on televisions and has a responsibility to spend every penny carefully.

Earlier this year the BBC sent more than 250 staff to cover an event marking the start of the one year countdown to the Olympics, 10 times more than their biggest news rival.

Michael Crick, former Political Editor of Newsnight warned that spending cuts might damage leading BBC programmes. But there are clearly visible cuts to make which needn’t affect programming or news production and their lavish spending sheds some light on their priorities. In another Telegraph story over the weekend, it was revealed that the BBC booked more than 1,600 nights of accommodation to house its staff when staging Radio One’s Big Weekend. Overall more than 210 staff were sent to Carlisle, some up to 2 weeks prior to the event amounting to 1,437 night of accommodation for Radio One staff and 190 for BBC television employees.

It is not surprising the BBC has been heavily criticised for out of control spending when attending major events. A National Audit Office report has criticised the BBC for not knowing in advance how much attending or staging events such as Glastonbury and Radio One’s Big Weekend will cost.

With a licence fee which leaves little change from £150, the BBC needs to act immediately to bring costs down. Thoughtless spending cannot continue.

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