Is the BBC the British Tax Avoidance Corporation?

BBC now in row over paying 3,000 people through personal service companies

The BBC has disclosed that around 3000 people on the Corporation’s books are paid through personal service companies – the same system used until banned by the Treasury by Ed Lester, the Student Loans Company chief, to avoid paying tax or national insurance at source.The full story is in Exaro News at It comes from a Freedom of Information request by David Mowat, the Conservative MP for Warrington,South and only covers part of the picture.
Altogether the BBC across the globe has 20,000 directly paid employees and 12,000 freelancers – 3,000 of them through personal service companies.
The figures are an underestimate since it does not include many of the BBC’s commercial companies and all of BBC’s talent – defined by them as ” people who appear in presenting or journalistic roles on our television, radio and online.”
So none of the high paid presenters will be in this breakdown nor will be people employed on many of the BBC’s commercial activities. Nor are people supplied through Reed Personnel who can choose to be paid through a personal service company, and BBC has decided to keep their numbers secret.
This means the figure must be much, much higher. A breakdown provided by the BBC – suggests that more than half the 3,000 are taking less than £26,000 a year, which suggests that they are genuine freelance. Another 1300 or so earn over £26,000 – 318 over £50,000 – and of these five earning over £150,000 and 31 over £100,000.
The BBC insist that none of them are permanent staff and like the government point out that none of them are being paid illegally.
A BBC spokeswoman said:”In the main they are hired to do specific jobs for a fixed period of time such as directing, editing and other craft skills. When a person is contracted in this way it is their responsibility to organise their tax arrangements directly with the HMRC. This is entirely in keeping with HMRC regulations and is standard practice across broadcasting and many other industries.”
However there are other questions to be answered. Why are the BBC not doing the same review as Whitehall in finding out whether all these contracts are genuine? David Mowat is right when says the BBC management should do this.
And why can’t we find out what the BBC Talent is paid – rather than the BBC sheltering behind an exemption through their Freedom of Information Act aimed to protect journalists; sources not disclose their pay – since it is paid by the licence payer.
Also rather disturbingly two prominent journos (one ex BBC)have told me the BBC tried to encourage them to be paid through personal service companies when they did not want to do it. Is this pressure from the BBC to avoid having to pay national insurance and encouraging possible tax avoidance. We should be told.

2 thoughts on “Is the BBC the British Tax Avoidance Corporation?

  1. The BBC do retain a lot of specialist project management personel. They are genuine freelancers with no job security or perks of any kind. They have also started to retain the services of ATOS in a big way recently. Perhaps we should be asking why does the BBC lacks so much internal expertise? and is bring ATOS (who have a reputation in the industry for achieving very little, but costing the earth) a good use of public money.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.