BBC spends £350,000 on taxis, trains and hotels it ‘never uses’ despite waging licence fee war with OAPs

5 days ago 8

THE BBC has admitted wasting £350,000 on taxis, trains and hotels it doesn’t use.

The revelation comes as it uses debt-collecting tactics on pensioners failing to pay the licence fee during lockdown.

The BBC has admitted spending £350,000 on taxis, trains and hotels it never uses

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The BBC has admitted spending £350,000 on taxis, trains and hotels it never usesCredit: PA:Press Association

As well as OAPs, the poor and people struggling without work face having their doors knocked on by agents demanding cash.

Twenty-three senior Tories have slammed the corporation for prosecuting and harassing vulnerable people over the £157.50 charge during lockdown - using private firm Capita.

But the BBC has now has admitted that 5,455 train tickets, 600 hotel rooms and 1,631 taxi trips were cancelled over the last five years and it was unable to claim refunds, the Daily Star reports.

Cancelled train trips cost it £273,000, hotel bookings £64,800 and taxis £25,000.

More than £6,000 a month was spent on transport and accommodation nobody ended up using.

Each unused cab cost the BBC an average of £15, cancelled train tickets £50 each, while the hotel room bookings left empty cost an average of £100 each.

The BBC said it tries to keep cancelled bookings to a minimum and for flights that are not used its booking agent American Express automatically claims back the cash.

Tory MPs have written to Tim Davie accusing the BBC of prosecuting and harassing vulnerable people

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Tory MPs have written to Tim Davie accusing the BBC of prosecuting and harassing vulnerable peopleCredit: Reuters

For taxis it said that all BBC fares have an initial 10-minute waiting time built into the charge, and this is normally enough to allow late-running passengers to get their cab.

On train fares it said many are claimed back, but cheaper “advance” tickets are not refundable.

A BBC spokesman said: “As a 24-hour international broadcaster, a significant amount of travel in 2019/20 was inevitable and the nature of our work means plans can often change at short notice.

"We have strict policies in place to ensure value for money with over 95 per cent of the money we control spent on content and services.”

In a fiery letter to the new BBC Director General Tim Davie, the Tory MPs – including two former Ministers - said “this immoral campaign of persecuting and harassing the poorest in our society during the unprecedented battle with Covid-19 must stop immediately.”

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They demanded a halt to the debt collecting at least until December 2 when the national shutdown in England ends.

Jonathan Gullis MP, who organised the letter, said: “Allowing Capita to continue sending debt collectors to knock on doors during this pandemic is unjust, unprincipled and far below what is expected of the British public service broadcaster.

“The BBC should tell Capita that this is most certainly not essential."

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