This week the shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt accused the BBC of ‘bribing’ staff to make the move to Salford Quays.
He was referring to the issue of London ‘weighting’ allowances (up to £4k a year), which BBC staff relocating from London to MediaCityUK will continue to be paid for the remainder of their careers.
Hunt said, “For the BBC to be using licence-fee payers’ money in this way beggars belief. Money should be spent on producing great programmes, not bribing people who want to stay in London to move to Salford.“
The BBC has defended itself, saying it is “common practice” for employees to keep weightings when relocating out of the capital and that, “It would be unreasonable to expect staff to take a reduction in earnings as part of this process.” (more at the Times).
It doesn’t really matter how the BBC tries to justify it’s various relocation incentives – in the middle of a recession these allowances are never going to go down well. And with a Conservative government breathing down it’s neck, chances are we’ll see less of these generous packages in the future (though probably no less media coverage).
In some not-entirely-unrelated news, here’s a cool little video from some Salford youngsters who visited MediaCityUK recently (featuring a very relaxed looking Peter Salmon):
Hopefully by the time these kids land jobs at MediaCity that £4k a year won’t seem like such a big deal.