The stress of facing court action for being involved in the BBC’s controversial tax-avoidance companies led one employee to attempt suicide, MPs will reveal today.
In recent months, scores of presenters have been told they owe thousands in unpaid historic tax, despite staff saying they set up personal service companies (PSCs) on the advice of their employer.
The BBC has denied this but evidence to the Commons digital, culture, media and sport committee proves workers set up PSCs on the advice of the broadcaster.
One worker told MPs that the stress of being hauled before the courts because she worked through a PSC had led her to try to commit suicide.
The stress of facing court action for being involved in the BBC’s controversial tax-avoidance companies led one employee to attempt suicide, MPs will reveal today
The anonymous statement read: ‘I have always loved working for the BBC but the way they have behaved has reduced me to more than tears. It’s one of the factors that three days ago took me into my loft where I tried to hang myself.’
Some 200 BBC presenters are being investigated by HMRC for alleged tax avoidance after declaring themselves self-employed, meaning they were paid as contractors rather than staff.
They worked through PSCs, which meant they enjoyed some tax relief while the BBC allegedly saved vast sums in national insurance contributions.
MPs will also reveal a letter in which the corporation advises Radio 6 DJ Liz Kershaw that it will use her only on an ‘ad hoc’ basis unless she has a PSC.
MPs will also reveal a letter in which the corporation advises Radio 6 DJ Liz Kershaw that it will use her only on an ‘ad hoc’ basis unless she has a PSC
The letter handed over by Miss Kershaw, 59, advises that she ‘makes enquiries about setting up a personal service company’.
Meanwhile, Newswatch presenter Samira Ahmed said in evidence that the BBC was ‘insistent’ she work through a PSC.
In one email released by the committee ahead of today’s hearing, a BBC rights executive tells a worker that having a PSC ‘saves tax’, adding there is no ‘wiggle room’. In other evidence to the MPs, some BBC workers say the stress surrounding the handling of their employment status led them to have mental breakdowns.
Radio presenter Charles Nove, who works for BBC Oxford, said he lived in fear of becoming homeless after being told he could be double taxed.
Newswatch presenter Samira Ahmed said in evidence that the BBC was ‘insistent’ she work through a PSC
In evidence to the committee, Mr Nove said: ‘I’m now constantly worried that I may face homelessness, should the BBC insist of pushing the recovery of tax that they unilaterally decided to pay on my behalf.’ Damian Collins, MP for Folkestone and chairman of the committee, said last night the evidence was ‘highly disturbing’.
The BBC said that it will set up a ‘fair and independent’ process under the supervision of the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution to resolve the row. Presenters who believe they have lost out through no fault of their own will be able to ask for a review of the circumstances surrounding their use of a PSC.
Women at Channel 4 earn an average of 28.6 per cent less than male employees, it has revealed. Chief executive Alex Mahon said the gender pay gap made for ‘uncomfortable reading’.