The BBC is on track to meet its targets on job cuts, after more than 1,000 staff expressed an interest in voluntary redundancy as part of the first wave of cutbacks at the corporation.
The BBC is on track to meet its targets on job cuts, after more than 1,000 staff expressed an interest in voluntary redundancy as part of the first wave of cutbacks at the corporation.

The BBC has now held initial discussions with all departments and a number of divisions have had more people express an interest in redundancy than needed to fulfil their share of the 3,780 job cuts mapped out over the next three years by director general Mark Thompson.

Drama, entertainment and children's have had 190 expressions of interest, more than the 150 posts earmarked for closure. The television division has had around 70 expressions of interest, and wants to cut 47 posts. Radio and music, which has to cut 150 jobs, is also believed to be oversubscribed.

The numbers of people willing to leave has come as a surprise to many both inside the BBC and in the unions. Many are believed to be more senior members of staff taking the opportunity to leave the corporation with a large redundancy payout.

"I've been hearing a lot of people saying: 'I've been wanting to go freelance for a long time and this will give me the buffer I need.' I think that's the big driver. There's a lot of people thinking this is a one-off opportunity," said one BBC insider.

Divisional talks between the unions and department heads are still ongoing, and will continue throughout October. The unions will then meet Thompson to thrash out a final agreement at a meeting expected to be held in November.

Meanwhile, every member of staff who has expressed an interest in voluntary redundancy is having a one-to-one meeting with human resources, to make sure that he or she is serious about leaving.

Staff who are offered redundancy will be given the standard BBC package - one month's salary for every year worked, provided they've worked for two years.

But there are still concerns over some departments. Factual and learning is believed to have had only half the number of expressions of interest in voluntary redundancy it needs to fulfil its quota of 424 job cuts. BBC Scotland is also believed to have only around 70 expressions of interest, well short of the 240 posts it wants to axe.

Unions have warned that, if the BBC turns down volunteers but then goes on to make compulsory redundancies, they will take strike action. But union insiders are encouraged by the negotiations and are optimistic about reaching an agreement.

Department/ No. of expressions of interest/ Target for job cuts

News 360 420

DEC 190 150

Sport 10 66

TV 70 47

Radio & music 160 150

F&L (estimated) 200 424