As staff demand tax justice, BBC rot escalates


The BBC fails in so many ways it’s almost tragic.

On Monday, a letter from some 160 local and network presenters to chief executive Tim Davie was published, asking the company to stop exposing them to unfair employment practices.

They are calling for it to resolve the “ongoing disaster” of IR35, rules introduced by tax authorities in 2000 to prevent people who would normally be considered employees from being taxed as if they were self-employed.

However, this plea does not come from the highly paid ‘talent’ of the BBC – whose total payroll in 2019/2020 increased by £ 1million to £ 144.6million, nor from its executive committee , whose salary rose from £ 4.95million to £ 5.41million. – but less brilliant beasts of burden which find themselves liable for tax due to the curious nature of their contracts.

Rather than employing its staff directly, the broadcaster forced them to use Personal Services Company (PSC) agreements. Thus, he could avoid paying national employers’ insurance rates or sickness and maternity benefits.

Its website currently states that the use of PSCs is under review. But not quickly enough, it seems for the current staff, who write:

“Dear Tim,

“Recent revelations about the unethical conduct of Martin Bashir and Tony Hall have crystallized something for this group: the dishonest conduct of the BBC management towards staff and cavalier attitude towards the law and deputies; his punishment of whistleblowers; the BBC management’s habit of hiding its failures; his lack of moral courage and reluctance to face his own problems – all of this helps explain the ongoing IR35 disaster.

In 2017, we presented Tony Hall (then director general of the BBC) with a case showing that the BBC’s IR35 policy and its illegal handling of our fiscal affairs caused despair and hardship. Some presenters were going to food banks or driving Ubers to make ends meet.

“ A committee was set up under Bob Shennan (General manager) to resolve these issues. Very little progress has been made. In 2018, we took these issues to the DCMS (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) select committee of the House of Commons), who strongly condemned the conduct of the BBC management. In meetings, Glyn Isherwood (financial director) describes it as “noise”.

“ We want you to admit that this situation was the fault of the managers and not the presenters and make a clear written plan to rectify the situation. ”

The timing of the letter couldn’t be much worse, with BBC management still mopping up the mess of Lord Dyson’s report to Martin Bashir’s 1995 Panorama interview with Princess Diana.

Interior Minister Priti Patel’s “strong reaction” to this report was to refuse to rule out the prospect of prosecution. She said Sky News: ‘Yes there are further actions that need to be taken, so clearly… that will follow ”.

Ah yes. This will be after she deals with human trafficking, illegal migrants, extraditions, digital passports, quarantine hotels and works on her “ dominant ” managerial approach.

Meanwhile, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has helpfully diverted attention from possible crime to the BBC, calling for “ far-reaching ” changes to ensure the company puts on “ a new emphasis on accuracy, impartiality and diversity of opinions … serves ”.

It’s the same old tired phrases repeated every time the BBC gets caught. They invariably lead to small cosmetic changes, more secure public funding, continued indifference to criticism, and barely concealed contempt for their followers.

But back to the beasts of burden. Using PSC isn’t a new BBC ploy: at the end of 2019, HMRC won an IR35 High Court case against three BBC presenters, David Eaves, Tim Wilcox and Joanna Gosling, all of whom were deemed to be employees and required to pay back £ 920,000 in taxes. The company had to reimburse £ 200,000 in NICs from outstanding employers.

The court ruled that staff were forced to contract through the PSCs, arguing that there was an “imbalance of bargaining power”. Surprised again, the BBC vowed to tidy up its house, acknowledging it had over 100 other presenters on similar contracts.

Society seems to go from one difficulty to another. He did not cover himself in glory during the Covid-19, abandoning any claim of journalistic impartiality according to his own guidelines.

He allowed himself to be used as the propaganda arm of the government and its agents, SAGE et al, offering nothing to counter the lockdown narrative and silence any dissent on the effectiveness or morality of forced vaccination.

Its business decision-making process is still poor, a symptom of a failing organization. There was the decision last year, blamed on Finnish guest conductor Dalia Stasevska, to exclude Rule, Britannia! of the Proms on the grounds that it glorified colonialism and slavery.

During the referendum campaign on Brexit, the BBC could not contain its anger. Commentator after commentator, article after article, warned of the disasters to come if old right-wing xenophobes voted to leave the EU. We all know how it happened.

The BBC still likes to think of itself as the epitome of impartial journalism and public service broadcasting. But more and more people are losing faith in her as this image is dispelled by the harsh reality of what she says and does.

Its ethics no longer concern the obligation imposed on it by the Charter to act “in the public interest, in the service of all audiences by providing impartial, high-quality and distinctive production and services that inform, educate. and entertain ”. It is about the ego of its elites.


About Hannah Schaeffer

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