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03/08/2010 - A Pension Scandal at Auntie Beeb?

AT THE beginning of July the BBC announced proposals to make changes to its pension scheme in order to address a £2bn deficit.  Among measures being put forward by management for consultation include the closure of the final salary scheme to new joiners, the capping of the amount that pensionable salaries can grow by of existing members to 1% per annum and the introduction of a defined contribution scheme.

The director general of the BBC, Mark Thompson, defended the proposals saying that the changes to the corporation’s pension scheme were “by far the toughest thing we have had to do in recent years” and that “We recognise this is painful, and it does mean a change from past expectations”.  He went on to say: “Everyone in the BBC has got to recognise that we cannot be exempt from a fundamental change in the British economy and in the expectations of the public”.

As ordinary workers at the BBC face uncertainty over their futures in retirement it will no doubt have come as a shock to discover that at the top of the corporation Mr Thompson and his executives are receiving many thousands of pounds a year in a pension perk.  This extra payment was revealed in an article in the Sunday Express of 25th July entitled BBC fatcats enjoy secret ‘slush fund’.  This perk, listed under “other remuneration” in accounts, is a top-up brought in as a response to a pension cap introduced in 1989 by the government on earnings above a certain level, (currently £123,600).  The top-up money, which is reported to be £163,000 of Mr Thompson’s total annual earnings of £831,000, can be used to fund a private pension.  So not a lot of worries about a comfortable retirement for the BBC’s executive board or the 30 other senior executives that receive this “other remuneration”!

Is it not scandalous that a public corporation such as the BBC is proposing cuts for the ordinary employees that put a question mark over their financial security in old age while doling out large sums of money to the people at the top so that they will have no such problems when they retire?

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