BBC waste £350k on unused taxis, trains and hotels – but charge OAPs for licence

The BBC has wasted more than £350,000 of ­licence payers’ cash on taxi, train and hotel ­bookings that were never used.

The Corporation has admitted that 5,455 train tickets, 600 hotel rooms and 1,631 taxi trips were cancelled over the last five years – and it was unable to claim refunds.

Aborted train trips cost it £273,000, ­cancelled hotel bookings another £64,800 and abandoned taxi journeys £25,000.

It means the BBC blew more than £6,000 a month on transport and accommodation ­nobody ended up using.

The news comes just months after the BBC scrapped free TV licences for most over-75s.

More than three million more people will now be forced to pay £157.50 a year.

And it follows new Director General Tim Davie’s pledge to “keep a focus on cost reduction”.

Andrew Allison from the Freedom Association blasted the ­wastage.

He said: “The BBC shows little regard for licence fee payers’ money and these figures highlight that.

"For as long as it gets its funding from a compulsory telly tax, nothing will change.

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“The only way forward is to scrap the licence fee and fund the Beeb through advertising and subscriptions.”

Each unused cab cost the BBC an average of £15.

Cancelled train tickets cost around £50 each, while the hotel room bookings that were left empty cost an ­average of £100 each.

The BBC said it tries to keep cancelled bookings to a minimum and for flights that are not used its booking agent American Express automatically claims back the cash.

For taxis it said that all BBC fares have an initial 10-minute waiting time built into the charge, and this is normally enough to allow late-running passengers to get their cab.

On train fares it said many are claimed back, but cheaper “advance” tickets are not refundable.

A BBC spokesman said: “As a 24-hour international broadcaster, a significant amount of travel in 2019/20 was inevitable and the nature of our work means plans can often change at short notice.

"We have strict policies in place to ensure ­value for money, with over 95% of the money we control spent on content and services.”

But John O’Connell, chief ­executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Spending ­hundreds of thousands of ­taxpayers’ cash on travel and hotels that weren’t even used is ­simply unacceptable.”

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