Over the last three years the BBC has spent more than £34m on taxi fares, according to figures recently obtained under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
WhatDoTheyKnow.com user Gerald Beer asked the BBC to provide a breakdown of minicab costs incurred by the staff and contributors working within each BBC Division since 2011.
Responding to Gerald's request, the BBC explained that some of the information was exempt from disclosure under the journalism get-out clause of the Freedom of Information Act.
This get-out, known as the derogation, is regularly used by the BBC to avoid responding to requests about its creative output.
However, in an uncharacteristic act of transparency, the BBC said it would disclose all of the requested information anyway, even that normally covered by the derogation.
The BBC made the following taxi payments:
- 2011/12: £10,741,554
- 2012/13: £11,775,985
- 2013/14: £11,918,789
- Total expenditure: £34,436,328
The values above represent the entire BBC taxi spend via its central booking system. That includes spending relating to the production of creative output, which would normally be exempt from disclosure.
The BBC also provided a table of information relating to the taxi bookings made by Divisions not directly involved in the production of creative output (e.g. that information normally disclosable under the Act).
Those figures reveal that more than a quarter of a million minicab bookings were made for non-creative output purposes in a three year period, representing a total cost equivalent to the residential TV licence fees paid by a town the size of Harlow.
Of the £5.3m paid in non-creative output taxi fares, a sum of £234k was completely wasted paying for waiting time and on-arrival cancellation fees.
A BBC spokesman said: "The BBC broadcasts 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and this places different kinds of demands on our shift staff and guests travelling at unsociable hours.
"The BBC is clear that public value is essential and rigorous guidelines ensure taxi travel is proportionate and appropriate. The cheapest method of travel is always encouraged, however in some case taxis journeys are necessary such as in emergencies or broadcast deadlines."
Andy Silvester, a spokesman for the TaxPayers' Alliance, recently said: "It's time to hit the brakes on this licence fee funded gravy train.
"The £145 TV tax is a big hit for hard-working families and the Corporation shouldn't waste it."