BBC Scotland has responded to claims that its 1250 staff have each racked up an average £9485 in expenses during the last two financial years, 2008/09 and 2009/10.
In a letter published in The Herald today, the Corporation's Head of Public Policy & Corporate Affairs, Ian Small, says that the bulk of almost £12 million racked up in expenses these last two financial years did not got to staff, on top of salaries, but instead went towards the making of programmes.
The story was first reported in the Sunday Mail, following a Freedom of Information request. Said BBC Scotland, its 2008/09 expenses totalled £6.6 million, while its 2009/10 one was £5.24 million. Now, what it is saying is that a large bulk of these figures were not expenses as most people would recognise them to be – eg hotel bills and taxi fares incurred by staff – but costs incurred while making programmes, such as the taxi fare for a guest on the late night news show, Newsnight Scotland.
And in response to The Herald's follow-up of the Sunday Mail tale, yesterday, the BBC Scotland letter reads: “Your story on BBC Scotland expenses claims that BBC Scotland staff have personally collected £5 million and £6 million the year before, on top of salaries.
“That is untrue.
“The expenses spend was almost entirely production-related and the vast bulk of it was on day-to-day programme production costs, such as travel for participants and contributors to programmes, not on staff.
“This point was made in our response to a Freedom of Information request which was the source of this story – but it was not reflected in your report.
“Programme expenses are an essential part of the process of operating a £160 million business and we operate a strict policy to ensure best value deals are secured when procuring essential services.
“Like all public bodies we are trying hard to reduce costs where we can and with budgets diminishing over the next few years it is important that we do so rigorously, while maintaining quality across all of our output.”