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Monday, 27 February 2017

OUTRAGEOUS! PAEDO-PROTECTORS BBC's TV licence bullies are exposed: How ruthless bosses order staff to catch 28 people a week for bonuses of £15,000 a year

  • The ruthless tactics used by BBC licence fee collectors have been exposed
  • Families hounded by BBC licence fee collectors have called them ‘intimidating’
  • Accused officials of snooping through windows and forcing their way into homes
  • Vulnerable people threatened into paying £145.50 fee when it was not necessary
  • Have you been hounded by licence fee bullies? Contact our Investigations Unit via tvlicence@dailymail.co.uk 

Ruthless and underhand tactics used by BBC licence fee agents can be exposed today.
Under an aggressive incentive scheme, hundreds of enforcement officers have orders to each catch 28 evaders a week.
Bosses promise bonuses of up to £15,000 a year, saying staff must gather evidence to take as many people to court as possible. 
Homeowners who fail to pay can be fined and given criminal records.
Among the vulnerable targeted in the past seven days are a war veteran with dementia and a desperate young mother in a women’s refuge. 
The revelations come from an investigation by a Daily Mail undercover reporter interviewed for an enforcement job by Capita. 
The outsourcing firm is paid £58million a year to collect licence fees for the BBC, bringing in £3.74billion a year.
The reporter was told by bosses: ‘We will drive you as hard as we can to get as much as we can out of you because we’re greedy.’ He was encouraged to spy on homes and take money on the doorstep.
‘Cash, debit, credit card, we’ll take anything,’ one TV Licensing manager said. ‘I tell people I’ll take shirt buttons.’
 
Last night, the BBC ordered an urgent investigation into the Mail’s findings, insisting there would be ‘swift and appropriate action’.
 

The reporter was told by bosses: ‘We will drive you as hard as we can to get as much as we can out of you because we’re greedy'

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley will question the BBC’s director general Tony Hall about the Mail’s findings in the coming days. Capita’s bosses also face being hauled before MPs.
The Government is now under renewed pressure to decriminalise the so-called ‘TV tax’ and crack down on the aggressive way in which payments are pursued.
The Mail’s undercover investigation found that:
  •  Officials are encouraged to snoop on neighbourhoods to try to work out when residents are in;
  • They gather evidence by informal chats, followed by an official caution;
  • If allowed inside they check TVs to gather evidence;
  • Residents who agree to pay up can still be prosecuted.
Households must have a licence to watch or record live TV programmes on any channel and when using BBC iPlayer. The rules apply to any device from a TV set to a games console.
Failure to pay can result in a criminal conviction and a £1,000 penalty. Thirty-eight people – mostly women – were jailed last year for not paying the fine.
Capita bosses told our reporter of the aggressive incentive system they have devised to bring in as much licence fee cash as possible from home vists. Agents arrange card payments, direct debits and weekly payment plans and take cash.
The firm’s 330 field officers are told they must hit a target – the ‘magic 28’ – the number of evaders an officer must catch a week, signing them up to pay.
Capita officers can be paid £20-£25 for each person they snare over 28.
 
Damian Collins, the Tory chairman of the Commons culture committee, described the Mail’s evidence as ‘damning’. He said he would demand answers from BBC chief Lord Hall.
‘It’s very concerning. This is being done in the BBC’s name,’ he added. ‘The BBC needs to make sure changes are made to the way this contract is being run or that it’s taken away from Capita and given to someone else.’
Labour MP Chris Matheson, who also sits on the committee, called for Capita bosses to be summoned to Parliament.
He added: ‘If there are people who deliberately avoid paying the licence fee they should face consequences.
‘But going after soft easy vulnerable targets to boost Capita’s profits undermines the BBC and TV Licensing.’
A spokesman for the Department for Culture Media and Sport said: ‘These reports are obviously concerning. The licence fee needs to be collected in a fair and reasonable manner.
‘The BBC has, quite rightly, ordered an urgent investigation and ministers will be raising this issue with them directly.’



About 180,000 people each year are charged with not paying their licence fee. The subsequent prosecutions account for around one in ten of all criminal cases in England and Wales.
Capita said its incentive scheme applies to sales of licence fees only and not to the number of people officers interview so they can be taken to court. The firm said it only prosecuted as a last resort.
It said comments made by the Capita bosses to the undercover reporter ‘do not reflect the high standards we expect’.
 
A spokesman added: ‘Capita is required by the BBC to ensure households are not breaking the law. Officers are expected to act in a professional manner.
‘We strongly refute any allegation that officers are instructed to act outside of these requirements. Where we find employees have not acted as they should we act appropriately.’
The BBC said there had been a 50 per cent reduction in complaints made to TV Licensing since 2010.
A spokesman added: ‘We are very disappointed by the conduct of Capita’s interviewing managers in this particular case which is not in line with the high standards we expect. We have asked Capita to investigate urgently.’

COLLECTION FIRM'S BOSS IS PAID £2.7M 

Capita’s chief executive Andy Parker, 47, earned £2.68million in 2015

The firm that collects licence fees for the BBC is run by a fat cat executive on a pay package of £51,000 a week.
 
Capita’s chief executive Andy Parker, 47, earned £2.68million in 2015.
 
The outsourcing giant nicknamed ‘Crapita’ by the magazine Private Eye, runs more than 100 businesses and brings in revenue of £4.6billion a year.
Some £2billion of this is from public sector contracts such as assessing benefits claimants and collecting taxes. Capita owns ParkingEye – the private parking company that has been accused of aggressively chasing payments from NHS patients.
Mr Parker was promoted from deputy chief executive of Capita in March 2014, four months after it bought ParkingEye for £23.9million.
 
Last year, the Daily Mail revealed how ParkingEye has had more than 60,000 county court judgments taken out against drivers in the past three years. These leave people with a damaging black mark on their credit files.
Capita last year faced paying up to £25million over delays in upgrading London’s congestion charging system.
The firm was meant to complete an IT overhaul of the system by August but it went live at the end of September.
Shares fell to a three-year low after the delay was announced as part of a wider trading update from Capita, wiping £1.7billion off the firm’s value.
Mr Parker, who lives in a £2million home in Warwickshire with his wife and two sons, said at the time: ‘Our delivery wasn’t up to the standard expected.’
A Capita spokesman said: ‘Andy Parker’s salary remains one of the lowest among CEOs of similar sized FTSE companies.’
 

We'll drive you hard - we're greedy: TV licensing boss boasts of high-pressure techniques and doorstep trickery he orders his staff to use when hounding people on their doorstep

In the back room of a Holiday Inn Express, Ian Doyle is briefing his latest recruit.
The silver-haired former casino boss – wearing a pin stripe shirt and a thick red tie – is sitting behind a large meeting room table strewn with papers.
A large silver watch jangles on his left wrist as he waves his arm in the air.
‘We will drive you as hard as we can to get as much as we can out of you because we’re greedy,’ he declares. ‘Everybody’s target driven. You’ve got your target, I’ll have a target, my boss has a target and so it goes on up the chain of command.’