BBC slashes senior managers' pay

The BBC has cut the amount it pays senior managers by more than 10%, the corporation said today.

Figures show the number of senior managers has dropped from 639 to 592 and the paybill has fallen by 12.2%.

They also show top BBC executives claim an average of £445 a month in expenses - around £100 less than a year ago.

Compared with the same period last year, top managers spent £14,500 less on taxis, £9,300 less on hospitality and £4,850 less on flights.

The BBC released a quarterly breakdown of expense claims and salary details today.

Its chief operating officer, Caroline Thomson, said it had "recognised" it had to change and work harder to convince licence fee payers that their money was spent wisely.

She said: "That is why over the last 15 months we have become both a more transparent organisation and a better value organisation, committed to serious reductions to senior manager numbers and pay.

"We are focusing relentlessly on delivering quality and better value. We are bearing down on costs right across the organisation so as much investment as possible goes into high-quality programmes. Whilst some expenses are necessary to do the job, the evidence shown today shows real and significant progress on that journey - we have cut expenses by a fifth and are reducing our pay bill by a quarter."

Earlier this year, Director-General Mark Thompson used his James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture at the Edinburgh International Television Festival to warn of "significant movement" on executive pay.

On Monday it was announced deputy director-general Mark Byford is being made redundant and his post is being axed. In 2009/10 he earned an annual salary of £475,000.

The corporation's marketing supremo, Sharon Baylay, who is paid £310,000, is also leaving and not being replaced.

A number of executives have reined in their spending on taxis, the figures show.

Director of future media & technology Erik Huggers' taxi bill for the three months was 1,331.30, compared to his claim for the previous quarter of £2,940.98.

And BBC controller of vision Jana Bennett ran up taxi claims of £2,107.68 - down from £2,736.02.

But chief operating officer Caroline Thomson still spent nearly £3,000, although she too was down on the preceding quarter. Her latest expenses claims show she used taxis costing £2,895.80, compared to the previous £3,389.69.

Together their taxi claims for the three months come to £6,334.78, compared to more than £9,000 in the previous period.

Huggers's claims also include £1,242.30 for a business class flight back from Tel Aviv, in a bid to beat the travel disruption caused by the ash cloud earlier this year.

He had been delivering a keynote speech at the Think Next 2010 conference and bought a last minute ticket to get on a flight before planes were grounded for several days.

The BBC said he had to travel business class because it was the last seat on the plane.

A corporation spokesman said: "Spending on flights by top managers is down 9.5% on the same period last year and 44.3% on the previous quarter.

"For all 17,078 BBC staff, spending on flights in 2009/10 is also down 3% on the previous year."

Director general Mark Thompson's claims also include a £177.38 fee for a second passport.

The BBC said today this was because he sometimes needed a spare for business purposes due to the length of time required for visa applications.