The BBC has been slammed for blowing an eye-watering £350,000 on unused taxis, train fares and hotel stays in the last five years alone, figures have revealed.
The broadcaster spent more than £273,000 on 5,455 train tickets, £64,800 on 600 hotel rooms and £25,000 on 1,631 taxi journeys – all of which were unused by its globetrotting staff.
The BBC – which is primary funded by a £157.50 TV licence fee – was unable to get any of the £6,000 it spent per month back as a refund.
Newly-appointed BBC director-general Tim Davie pledged to ‘keep a focus on cost reduction’ when he took over the role in September.
The corporation scrapped free TV licences for all over-75s in August – leaving those who don’t receive pension credit forced to pay full price.
The BBC (BBC Broadcasting House, pictured) has been slammed for blowing an eye-watering £350,000 on unused taxis, train fares and hotel stays in the last five years alone, figures have revealed
Andrew Allison – the head of campaigns at pressure group Freedom Association – told The Star: ‘The BBC shows little regard for licence fee payers’ money and these figures highlight that.
‘For as long as it gets its funding from a compulsory telly tax, nothing will change.’
The BBC said cancelling travel is often inevitable given the nature of its 24-hour global operation.
On average, the cost of an unused taxi journey is £15, a cancelled train far is £50 and an abandoned hotel stay is £100.
Most train tickets – except for advanced fares – are refundable if plans change, the corporation added.
Newly-appointed BBC director-general Tim Davie (pictured) pledged to ‘keep a focus on cost reduction’ when he took over the role in September
A BBC spokesperson said: ”As a 24-hour international broadcaster, a significant amount of travel in 2019/20 was inevitable and the nature of our work means plans can often change at short notice.
‘We have strict policies in place for essential travel and expenses in order to keep costs as low as possible and ensure the best value for money.
‘This accounts for a fraction of the cost of providing free TV licences for over 75s – which at £745m a year and rising would lead to significant cuts to the programmes and services which our audiences love.’
Earlier this week, MPs blasted the BBC for an ‘unjust’ and ‘unprincipled’ use of debt collectors to ‘harass vulnerable people’ during lockdown.
A letter written to Mr Davie by Tory MP Jonathan Gullis, thought to be backed by 22 MPs, calls for an ‘immediate halt’ to all debt recollection.
It is understood that as of yesterday the BBC had not yet received the letter. It follows reports that employees at Capita, which runs the BBC’s licence fee collection operation, are visiting people to get them to pay up during lockdown.
The letter says: ‘The BBC is continuing to prosecute and harass vulnerable people and families during the lockdown.
‘Allowing Capita to continue sending debt collectors to knock on doors during this pandemic is unjust, unprincipled and far below what is expected of the British public service broadcaster.’
It adds: ‘It is also highly irresponsible for Capita employees to enter homes… in the middle of a major pandemic.
‘This immoral campaign of persecuting and harassing the poorest in our society during the unprecedented battle with Covid-19 must stop immediately.’
Tory MP Jonathan Gullis, thought to be backed by 22 MPs, calls for an ‘immediate halt’ to all debt recollection
A BBC spokesman said: ‘TV Licensing are not visiting older households registered as having held a free over-75s licence.
‘From early August visits resumed to unlicensed homes after a number of strict safety measures were introduced, including mandatory face coverings, social distancing and staff not entering people’s homes.’
Rebecca Ryan, campaign director of lobby group Defund the BBC, said: ‘It is outrageous that the BBC are continuing to pursue debt collection through Capita, during a national lockdown.
‘It isn’t just immoral, as so many people across the country are facing unemployment and serious economic hardship because of the virus, but it is a health hazard to send debt collectors into people’s homes.’