Highly paid executives and presenters working for the BBC, and bosses of the newly nationalised banks, must disclose details of salaries and bonuses, the information watchdog says today.
The new rules published by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) will throw light on the pay packets of senior staff employed by a range of public bodies in receipt of subsidies. Scandals involving the broadcaster Jonathan Ross and the former Haringey children’s services boss Sharon Shoesmith have brought the issue of accountability and pay into the public spotlight.
It took repeated requests to the BBC before it revealed that Mr Ross was paid £6m a year, while it emerged during the investigation into the death of Baby P that Ms Shoesmith was on a salary of £110,000. A separate inquiry has uncovered the cost to the taxpayer of the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith’s use of the MPs’ second home allowances scheme. Under the terms of the ICO guidance, “When should salaries be disclosed?”, details of wages, bonuses and performance-related pay should be published to the nearest £5,000 band when there is a legitimate public interest. The guidance is expected to also affect executives working for Northern Rock and the Royal Bank of Scotland, which will no longer be able to keep details about their pay secret.
The spiralling salaries of BBC stars such as Chris Moyles, Chris Evans and Sir Terry Wogan have come under scrutiny recently. Despite some pay deals being public knowledge, the BBC refuses to disclose other presenters’ salaries. Critics, however, want more transparency for licence-fee payers.
Commenting on a recent National Audit Office (NAO) report, the MP Edward Leigh, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, said: “The BBC must account for why it spends much more than its commercial rivals on breakfast and drive-time shows. It is already clear from the NAO report that this is primarily down to presenters’ remuneration.”Reuse content