BBC splashed out £125,000 on alcohol in last four years, figures show

BBC splashed out £125,000 on alcohol including £74,000 on wine and £34,000 on beer and cider in last four years, figures show

  • Workers ran up £73,479 on wine, and BBC also paid £33,836 in beer and cider
  • Broadcaster’s staff popped £14,606 worth of sparkling wine from 2016 to 2019
  • Much of costs would have been footed by taxpayer through £157.50 licence fee 
  • BBC said it has ‘strict rules’ on alcohol purchase and has cut costs in recent years

The BBC splashed out £125,000 on alcohol including £74,000 on wine and £34,000 on beer and cider in the last four years, according to figures.

Data obtained through a freedom of information request gives insight into the broadcaster’s lavish drinking culture, with the corporation spending £125,687 on alcohol between 2015-2019.

Workers ran up a £73,479 bar tab on wine over this period and the BBC also paid for £33,836 in beer and cider through a single supplier, Majestic.

The company’s employees popped £14,606 worth of sparkling wine between 2016 and 2019, with £21,904 spent on booze in the last year alone. 

BBC workers ran up a £73,479 bar tab on wine between 2015-2019 at events such as press launches, award ceremonies and celebrating the successful completion of a series (file photo)

A total of £1,328 was spent on spirits in 2018, decreasing to £220 the following year.

Much of these costs would have been footed by the taxpayer through the licence fee, which costs £157.50 a year per household.

The BBC said it serves the alcoholic refreshments at events where there is ‘an appropriate business purpose’ such as press launches, award ceremonies or to celebrate the successful completion of a series.

Its expenses policy does not allow the purchase of champagne.

The news has sparked further fury over BBC expenditure, after accounts published last month revealed staff pay spiked by 3.5 per cent to £1.5billion this year.

Top earners Gary Lineker and Zoe Ball earn £1,350,000 and £1,364,999, respectively.

Harry Fone, grassroots campaign manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘It’s disgraceful that BBC staff are popping corks at the expense of hard-pressed taxpayers.

‘The licence fee lost its fizz decades ago and wasteful spending like this shows why it is no longer fit for purpose.

‘The Beeb should call time on their boozing, axe the hated TV tax and stop forcing Brits to pay for something they don’t want.’

The BBC stripped most over 75s of their free licence fees in August after the government stopped paying for the service.

Workers claimed the resources at New Broadcasting House in west London were substandard, with internet and phone connections often breaking down (file photo)

The news follows accounts published last month revealing staff pay spiked by 3.5 per cent to £1.5billion this year with Zoe Ball, pictured in January 2019, earning £1,364,999

Director of Silver Voices campaign group Dennis Read added: ‘Silver Voices is very concerned about this further evidence of skewed priorities from the BBC.

‘How can the BBC justify huge presenter salaries and expenses like this, when thousands of hard-pressed senior citizens are being chased to spend the equivalent of one week’s state pension on the licence fee?

‘£23,000 would buy 146 free licences for the over 75s. We would say cheers to that!’

A BBC spokesperson said: ‘The BBC has strict rules around the purchase of alcohol meaning costs have been significantly cut in recent years and last year fell again by over 10 per cent.’

It follows the broadcaster announcing sweeping changes to regional TV news and local radio in England in July, which will lead to 450 job cuts.

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