The BBC has given up trying to cut the number of its employees paid more than the British Prime Minister, the UK's National Audit Office has discovered.
The public sector spending watchdog also found that the state broadcaster hasn't sacked enough people yet and should consider chinning off more freelancers and agency staff to meet cost reduction targets.
It said that although the Beeb had cut its payroll spending by six per cent between financial years 2010-11 and 2015-16, sacking 3,400 staff to achieve this had cost it £190m. Despite this, the Beeb's headcount had not reduced fast enough. The broadcaster had set itself a target of shedding 2,000 jobs over the last five years.
"The reduction in workforce is smaller than the BBC originally planned because the BBC has offset posts it closed by creating new roles in priority areas," said the NAO. These new roles included new digital folk to support iPlayer and "greater personalisation of BBC content".
Senior BBC managers are currently paid a total of £47m, down from £64m in 2010-11. However, the number paid more than £150,000 increased from 89 to 98. The Prime Minister's base salary is £150,402.
Of people earning more than the PM, it was supposed to have cut this number by 20 per cent. Instead, as the NAO found: "The BBC is no longer trying to meet this target and now believes that it is more relevant to look at the number of senior managers who are paid more than £170,000. This figure takes account of inflation since the target was set and the loss of benefits that senior managers used to receive."
Sixty-one people fall into this bracket, though the NAO made no comparison between this year's figure and earlier years.
"In the period from 2010-11 to 2015-16, the BBC has not monitored or reported centrally in a consistent way on the number and cost of all types of 'variable staff' (freelance and agency workers), meaning it is not possible to assess how its total requirement for people has changed over time," added the watchdog. Some BBC personalities are technically employed by external companies.
Ofcom's News Consumption Report for 2015 [PDF], the most recent figures published by the communications regulator, showed that consumption of broadcast BBC news had declined by a few percentage points year-on-year. ®