BBC announces contract review for more than 800 "off-payroll" staff

Following well publicised media stories and a report from The Public Accounts Committee, the BBC has announced a contract review of more than 800 on-air staff being paid through their own companies.

It has been reported that they include some of the BBC’s most well-known broadcasters on the television and radio.

This was announced in a report published yesterday, after a government review of tax paid by staff.  The report stated too many staff, in the government and the BBC, made their own arrangements to pay tax and national insurance, which could allow them to contribute less.  The report was undertaken by Deloitte and BBC auditors.

Deloitte and the internal auditors found that, of the 6,123 contracts where the BBC pays individuals as if they were companies, 804 should be urgently reviewed.  The 804 individuals, who were paid more than £50,000 per annum, should be the subject of the BBC's new employment test as a matter of priority. An estimated 131 freelancers could be offered staff contracts as a result.

The BBC said this new employment test will also now be carried out on any new staff, to help move away from the practice of engaging on-air talent on long term contracts as personal service companies, when a staff contract would be appropriate. It is hoped the changes will be in place by the start of the new tax year in April 2013.

However, the BBC said there is "no evidence" it used personal service companies to help aid tax avoidance. "Our review shows the BBC is not using personal service companies to avoid tax or help others avoid tax," said Zarin Patel, the BBC's chief financial officer. The BBC said it was making the changes to help address "the public perception that off-payroll contracts and in particular personal service companies are used to avoid tax".  It said retaining a freelance model was "critical" for the success of the Corporation. Furthermore, there is no suggestion that any of the presenters has broken any tax rules in their dealings with the BBC.

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