BBC- communicate with your trustees.

I’m posting this extract from the FT as an illustration of what goes wrong when communication breaks down between Trustees (the people who look after the interests of current and future pensioners) and Employers (the people who pay for them).

That this breakdown has happened at Britain‘s flagship communications organisation is ironic. Should we be surprised no, should we be worried-yes!

If the BBC can’t communicate, what chance the thousands of Governmental and Non-Governmental organisations who are going to have these same conversations over the next twelve months.

Trustees of the BBC pension scheme have expressed outrage at the corporation for refusing to wait until the next actuarial valuation to push ahead with controversial changes to member benefits. Minutes from an extraordinary general meeting held last night,, show the trustees are also embarrassed at having not spoken out earlier over their concerns. The revelations follow the announcement of two BBC strikes, on October 5 and 6 and again on October 19 and 20, to coincide with the Conservative Party conference and the government‘s spending review, respectively. Chairman of the trustees Jeremy Peat told the 150 members who attended the meeting:

 “There was never any formal discussion between the BBC and the trustees on the pension proposals… “I understand you feel let down and that you feel we should have taken up cudgels.” He added: “The BBC effectively bypassed the trustees and we consulted a QC who advised they were within their rights to do this … if asked, the pension trustees would have refused to make the changes to the scheme the BBC proposed.”

Peat said he had arranged a meeting with director general Mark Thompson, but added he was not optimistic over the outcome. Scheme actuary Alison Blay insisted there was no official requirement to make changes to the scheme before the next valuation – due in 15 months. She added: “I understand why the BBC wants to do it now but I can’t think of any requirement for it to happen now.” Grant Cassidy, member elected trustee and Bectu representative, said: “I was outraged. It is scandalous for the BBC to try to make these changes contractually. As a trustee I felt let down that the BBC circumvented the trustees.”

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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2 Responses to BBC- communicate with your trustees.

  1. Emma says:

    Thank you for posting this – this is one of the things that Mark Thompson is trying to paper over – the fact is there is no sane reason to implement changes before they know exactly what the review finds. Let us not forget, the BBC initially in June 2010 were claiming the deficit was 2bn – then it went to 1.5bn and there are some reports that it is even less.

    While the NUJ stands alone on strike action, Thompson would also do well to remember that BECTU have said they are only agreeing now – although alot of BECTU members are angry that they were steered to vote in agreement at the changes – if the deficit is below 1.5bn BECTU will reballot.

    Thompson, already unpopular has pretty much sealed the end of his career with his stance to knee jerk react with measures that are short term at best, without having all the facts at his finger tips – it is this that is one of the major reasons for the current strikes.

  2. henry tapper says:


    As I’m sure you understand…

    The defecit is a function of market forces as they impact on assets and liabilities and the assumptions used by the trustees on future returns , life expectancy and so on.

    Let’s hope that discussions between the trustees and the Company are conducted in a way that brings some harmony!

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