Huw Edwards shares ‘reality check’ after BBC redundancy letters sent out

Insiders reportedly said the letters, received by all senior news presenters and presenters, have caused morale to ‘plummet’

Ellie Harrison
Monday 17 April 2023 07:28 BST
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The BBC has reportedly issued letters gauging interest for voluntary redundancy to its top presenting stars, sending shockwaves through the corporation.

The move is thought to be part of a cost-saving mission by the corporation, which includes reducing spending in its news division.

On Saturday night (15 April), the Mail reported that the BBC’s interim managing editor of news and current affairs, Philippa Busby, has written to all its senior TV and radio presenters asking them to consider voluntary redundancy.

The publication reported that Huw Edwards, Clive Myrie and Sophie Raworth were among those to receive letters. The Independent has contacted their representatives for comment.

On Twitter, Edwards said the move was a “standard invitation to consider applying for voluntary redundancy” and “nothing more”.

Alongside a picture of him and his mother drinking champagne, he wrote: “Reality check. A standard HR exercise by @BBCNews (one of many over the years) is just that.

“A standard invitation to consider applying for voluntary redundancy. Nothing more. As my mam says, don’t believe everything in the papers [sic].”

Nick Robinson said on Twitter: “First newspapers call for cut to licence fee. Then same papers report shock at redundancies, closures or repeats. Later papers say licence fee now not value for money because of... BTW This is a routine offer of voluntary redundancy which no one named here is likely to take up.”

Busby’s letter, seen by the publication, reportedly stated: “As you will be aware, in 2022 we announced a number of changes across BBC News which have meant that some colleagues have been placed at risk of redundancy, including some colleagues in presenter roles.”

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A newsroom source reportedly said: “The email is addressed to all senior news presenters and presenters on the band immediately below. Everyone got it on the same day.”

Insiders also reportedly said the letters had led morale, which was already low, to plummet even further in the newsroom.

Edwards has recently received huge praise for his reporting on the Queen’s death, while Myrie’s coverage of the war in Ukraine has been exceptional.

Stars were given until last Friday (7 April) to register their interest in taking a redundancy offer.

A BBC spokesperson told The Independent: “This isn’t about any new job cuts – it’s a standard HR exercise relating to savings we’ve announced previously – and it’s not targeting any individuals; we have to send it to everyone who’s at the same grade.

“We’re looking for expressions of interest in redundancy, not offering it, and it’s not the case that any or everyone who came forward would be accepted.”

Many parts of the BBC have been under threat of cuts. Last month, a major musicians’ trade union described proposed cuts to the BBC’s classical performing groups as “utterly devastating”.

BBC Broadcasting House in London
BBC Broadcasting House in London (PA Archive)

The BBC had announced plans to scrap its in-house chamber choir, the BBC Singers, and reduce salaried orchestral posts across the BBC English Orchestras by around 20 per cent.

The corporation then U-turned on its decision to scrap the chamber choir after pressure from musicians, the public and politicians.

It was the second U-turn by the BBC in March, after it suspended and then reinstated Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker over his use of social media to criticise the Conservative government’s refugee policy.

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