The BBC spent more than £11 million ferrying staff around Britain and putting them up in flats and hotels during the past two years, as part of its efforts to move production outside London.
The corporation aims to spend half of its content budget outside the M25 by 2016, in order to forge closer ties with communities outside the capital and to distribute licence fee money more evenly.
However, instead of promoting the staff who already worked in its headquarters in Glasgow, Salford, Bristol, Cardiff and Belfast, or asking those who accepted jobs to foot their own costs, it is spending millions of pounds moving its London staff around Britain.
According to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, the BBC spent £8,053,269 on hotels for employees working in the regions over the past two financial years.
Of that figure, nearly £3 million was spent putting people up in Scotland, and just over £2.5 million was paid to house staff in Wales.
The figures have been swollen by the corporation’s insistence that it will only commission certain shows, such as drama series Merlin, on the proviso that they are made outside England in order that they can count towards its targets for production in the “nations”. Staff, actors and presenters who ordinarily live in London often have to relocate for the duration of filming, inflating production costs. Some senior executives who live in London but have taken senior positions outside the M25 even have it written into their contracts that the BBC will pick up the bill for their commuting.
The corporation spent at least £2,075,581 ferrying staff around the country during the past two years – although the actual figure is likely to be far higher.
The corporation said it did not have separate details of the money it has spent on flights within the UK, and that it would be too expensive to separate these out.
It also declined to give details of any spending on taxis, or transport that was paid for through expenses, rather than through the corporation’s booking system. On top of that figure, at least £1,156,198 of licence fee money was spent on renting flats for staff, and paying for their water and electricity.
The vast majority, £785,679, was spent on flats in the English regions, including Salford where the BBC recently moved into MediaCity.
Under BBC rules, staff are entitled to claim up to £1,900-a-month for accommodation and utilities if they relocate to Salford or are posted away from their permanent residence on attachment.
There are 271 staff claiming on the policy at the moment, many of whom effectively split their time between London and the place they are posted. They are allowed to make such claims for up to two years.
Those moving to the BBC’s MediaCity in Salford, Greater Manchester, on a permanent basis are eligible for gold-plated relocation packages, including £1,000 for new carpets and curtains.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that only 26 new jobs at MediaCity had gone to locals, eight of which were six-month “ambassador” contracts for 16-19 year olds, meeting and greeting for between £3.64 and £4.92 an hour.