Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I counted them out, and...

For all the internal grief at the BBC over Delivering Quality First and Simplification, it's hard to argue that the BBC has been "transformed" over the past six years, at least in workforce terms. Yes, there are plenty of people now making tons of online content of variable quality at lower pay rates, but the headcount reductions are probably less than you could have achieved through a genuine recruitment freeze and attrition.

Full-time equivalent staff numbers have fallen by 847 from 2010/11 to 2015/16, through a redundancy programme which saw 3,400 out through the door at an average cost of close to £56,000 per head.

In 2010/11, 19,767 staff shared a wage bill of £921m - average per head £46.5k.

In 2015/16, 18,920 staff shared a wage bill of £862m - average per head £45.5k.

And, says the NAO, the BBC has no real idea of how many freelance and contract staff it's using, with a best estimate of 2,500 in 2016, and no idea of whether the trend is up or down over the period.

The full NAO report has detailed stuff for nerds like me on the shift of managers between SM2 and Band 11. Probably, the real trick is to follow the money - in January 2012, 89 staff members were paid more that £150k pa; in December 2016, there were 98.  The BBC has told the NAO it's set a new benchmark of £170k pa to track, because of inflation since the target was set, and the fact the new senior managers aren't getting the same perks.

The graphs also reveal, in 2016, 2.3% of the workforce described as "presenters and performers" - that's 435 or so. I can imagine when their salaries are revealed in the next Annual Report, the above-£150k figure will rocket.

The NAO report raises alarms bells about the Government's re-investment in the World Service - or a least the pace of the project. The BBC is getting £289m over five years to fund "in part" (who else gets some ? Ed) 11 language services. The BBC planned to recruit 921 in 2016/17; the out-turn is just 318. I imagine the Foreign Office will want a conversation.

Structurally, with BBC Studios leaving the mothership, and Charlotte Moore's Content down to a mere 813, the behemoth of the BBC remains News - 7,579 staff, and an estimated 586 on "variable" terms. And yet, Director James Harding is not on the main board.

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