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BBC’s relocation cost under £233 million budget

UK public broadcast the BBC’s efforts to relocate staff and services from London to Salford will come in under the approved £233 million (US$356 million) budget, according to an official report.

The long term cost of the move will be over £900 million, according to the UK National Audit Office.

The NAO said it is still too early to say whether the move to Salford in Greater Manchester represents value for money for UK licence fee payers. However, amid mainstream UK press reports about the cost of the move, it did find incentives on offer were more generous than this ordinarily on offer and that cost controls relating to its relocation policy were inadequate.

The BBC estimates that the final cost of fitting out the buildings at Salford and moving people in will be £224 million, £9 million less than the revised budget approved by the BBC Trust in February 2011. The lifetime budgeted cost of relocation and operating costs up to 2030 is £942 million.

The NAO has recommended that the BBC Trust, which oversees the broadcaster’s activities, should continually review the move and that the BBC should maintain clear records to be able to demonstrate  that payments are appropriate and it recovers allowance payments from staff that leave the organisation.

The BBC exceeded said it had “exceeded its target to relocate 30 per cent of staff from the 1,500 roles transferring from London to Salford”, with 38% making the move.

Anthony Fry, chair of the Trust’s Finance Committee, said: “The BBC has struck a sound balance in its handling of this move, part of a commitment agreed during the last Charter to better serve all audiences across the UK.” He added: “Given that the move was well-managed and within budget, however, it is disappointing that some of the controls on relocation payments proved inadequate and we would not expect a repeat of this with any future moves.”