BBC to review executive pension top-ups

Image caption, Thompson became director general of the BBC in 2004

The BBC is to review executive pension top-ups as part of the corporation's pensions consultation process.

BBC general director Mark Thompson said the top-ups would be reviewed "on the principle that pension contributions should be... fair and consistent".

He was speaking at an internal meeting broadcast to all BBC staff.

If the Funded Unapproved Retirement Benefit Scheme - Furbs - was removed, the BBC could save thousands of pounds a year.

But each of the executive top-up deals are part of individual contractual arrangements - any change to those contracts would have to negotiated.

Furbs were introduced for top executives who joined the BBC after 1989 when a cap on pensionable earnings of £123,000 was introduced.

The scheme's aim was to top up the pensions of senior executives with the amount they would have got if the cap had not been introduced.

Strike threat

The pensions top-ups for the BBC's 10 executive board members cost the corporation £646,000 a year. Several other senior BBC staff also receive top-ups but the figures are undisclosed.

If Thompson's pensions top-up - £163,000 - was removed, his salary plus other benefits would drop from £838,000 to £675,000.

In June, the BBC announced plans to overhaul its staff pension scheme to try and tackle a £2bn deficit.

The corporation's pension proposals include closing its current final salary scheme to new joiners and imposing a cap on the amount pensionable salaries of existing members can grow to 1% a year.

Unions representing staff at the BBC have sent out ballot papers to their members asking for strike action over the dispute.

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