Tories slam BBC for accepting licence fee increase

The Conservative Party has launched an attack on the BBC and its programme of cost-cutting while receiving a cash boost from a statutory increase in the licence fee.

John Whittingdale, the party’s shadow secretary of state for culture, media and sport, criticised the corporation for grabbing an extra £130m a year from the increase in the licence fee, due to kick in on 1 April, while announcing in recent an efficiency savings package of over £350m.

The new licence fee will cost £126.50, an increase of £5.50.

The current system for increasing the licence fee was put in place by government in the late-1990s, with its annual increase agreed by a cross-section of MPs.

Whittingdale said the latest increase must be justified in the wake of the massive savings made by the BBC in recent weeks.

Director-general Mark Thompson has now announced almost 3,800 job cuts as part of a strategy to raise funds for programming and trim the corporation’s notorious reliance on reams of administrators.

Whittingdale said: “If the BBC can make savings of that size then there is no need for the licence fee payer to have to pay more.”

By Kevin May

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