The Equality Act 2010 states that men and women must be paid the same for doing the same work, like work and work of equal value. The BBC (as a public sector employer) has an even higher level of duty to advance equality of opportunity. The BBC has failed to live up to this duty. Our evidence suggests women within the BBC are working in comparable jobs to men but earning far less.
A more transparent pay structure is needed if the BBC wants to repair its reputation on equal pay. Publication of salaries has helped to improve equality for those earning over £150,000. Similar transparency is now needed across the board. If the BBC wants to encourage women to come forward with equal pay concerns, it must commit to making substantial improvements to its flawed grievance processes.
The BBC’s policy of engaging presenters via Personal Service Companies (PSCs) from 2007–2012 has caused life-altering financial and personal consequences for many presenters. As a direct result of the BBC’s actions, many presenters are facing liabilities of hundreds of thousands of pounds in unpaid income tax and national insurance contributions (NICs). The BBC’s decision to launch a grievance process under the supervision of the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) marks a welcome step in establishing whether the BBC should bear some liability for unpaid NICs. The BBC must take urgent action to improve the way it deals with taxation of its freelance employees.
The BBC’s handling of both equal pay and PSCs has been extremely disappointing. It has failed to properly consult with its staff and has repeatedly failed to take proactive steps, instead relying upon their staff to come forward and raise concerns. This has resulted in a crisis of trust which urgently needs to be addressed by the corporation.
In order to meet its target, the BBC must save another £800 million by 2021–22. We are concerned that, in delivering the next tranche of savings, the BBC may have to compromise on the quality of services provided to the licence fee payer. Taking over licence fee funding for the over-75s is another pressure.
Among the areas that may suffer is the existence of BBC Parliament as a broadcast channel. The channel has a unique importance to Parliament as the only place where the proceedings of the House of Commons and House of Lords can be viewed; this significance must be factored into any decision-making. The BBC has now announced that some proposed changes, including the cutting of summary programmes, have been abandoned. We welcome this change of heart. However, we are concerned about the BBC’s unwillingness to commit to safeguarding the broadcast channel beyond the coming year. We set out our recommendations about this in this report, including our belief that the BBC must lay out a new strategy for the BBC Parliament channel.
Published: 25 October 2018