BBC spend on booze revealed

A nice little earner for Majestic Wine, according to reports

Updated: 
BR7WB0 Red wine pouring into a glass, studio isolated on white background

The BBC has revealed that it spent £43,000 on alcohol last year, £1,000 more than the year before.

Following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request from the Daily Mail, the corporation said it spent an average of £827 per week last year on alcoholic drinks across the organisation as a whole.

The BBC charter allows it to buy drinks for presenters and guests, at the end of a series and for awards ceremonies.

"The BBC has clear policies to ensure spend on hospitality is proportionate and we are always mindful that we are spending public money," a spokesman told the paper.

"Production teams do on occasion provide hospitality for guests and presenters. Drinks may be purchased where there is an appropriate business purpose, for example at award ceremonies or to celebrate the successful completion of a series."

One interesting titbit to emerge from the FOI request is that the BBC sources all its alcoholic drinks from Majestic Wine.

"The BBC has a rigorous expenses policy, which has been progressively tightening and we are careful to ensure value for money," the spokesman explained.

Getting a good deal?

And, certainly, a quick comparison indicates that the corporation does seem to be getting a good deal from Majestic, which has been cutting its prices in recent months to fend off competition from supermarkets and discounters. A bottle of Oxford Landing Sauvignon Blanc, for example, costs £7.99 from Waitrose and a penny more at Sainsburys.

And while Majestic charges the same for a single bottle, the price drops to £5.42 when two or more bottles are bought.

Similarly, a bottle of Laurent-Perrier Brut NV - for those award ceremonies and celebrations - is £37.50 or a multi-buy £22.49 from Majestic, compared with £37.99 at Waitrose and £40 at Sainsbury's.

But the figures may provide ammunition for those who believe that the BBC is wasting too much of the licence-payer's money. Last summer, for example, it was revealed that it had spent almost £29 million on hotels over a three-year period.

Most notably, in 2013, the National Audit Office slated the BBC for having "breached its own already generous policies on severance payments too often and without good reason."

The BBC's Royal Charter is up for renewal next year, with many senior Conservatives calling for a cut to the licence fee. Defenders of the corporation are concerned that such calls could mark a step towards privatisation.

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