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“Leaving the BBC is like winning the lottery”: BBC facing investigation as it spends over £58 million in severance pay

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By Jennifer Faull, Deputy Editor

December 26, 2012 | 2 min read

The Telegraph has revealed that The National Audit Office is preparing to examine the scale of severance packages at the corporation following MPs raising concerns that leaving the BBC was like “winning the lottery”.

Figures obtained by The Telegraph under Freedom of Information laws show that in 2010 a total of 481 BBC staff and executives were given redundancy payments worth a total of £27 million, this more than doubled to £58 million in 2011 as 1,281 staff received redundancy payments, while in the first half of this year 270 staff received £14 million. The Telegraph also noted that average payout for an executive made redundant at the BBC was £51,000.

200 BBC managers have reportedly received over £100,000 each in payoffs over the past three years. A total of 14 executives being given payoffs of more than £300,000 each while 194 executives have been given £100,000 each.

Detailed examples come from Mark Byford, the former director of journalism, who received £949,000 as part of his severance package, making him the biggest earner from a departure.

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Caroline Thomson, the former chief operating officer at the BBC, was given £670,000.

Last month Lord Patten of Barnes, the chairman of the BBC Trust, blocked a request for a rapid investigation by the National Audit Office.

Following criticism from MPs, NAO have now confirmed they will scrutinise the payoffs as part of its New Year programme. A spokesman for the office said: “It is our intention that it [severance payments] will be in the programme."

A Telegraph source from the BBC went on to say: “We recognise that these numbers quite rightly appear extremely large to ordinary people. I’m very concerned that there should be a full NAO report to form a view of whether these payments are out of kilter.

“Tony Hall, the new director-general, is going to have to think about the implications of this.

“He is not going to want to hire a lot of people on terms which are overly generous."

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