BBC bosses are under fire after it was revealed staff received bumper pay rises while free TV licences are being withdrawn to the over-75s.

Salary increases of between 10% and 20% were handed to 889 staff – and 256 were given more than 20%.

The news has been blasted by campaigners for OAP rights.

Jan Shortt, general secretary of the National Pensioners Convention, insisted the increases were “completely and utterly” unacceptable.

She added: “It’s sickening they would consider giving these rises at a time when they are claiming they don’t have the money to fund over-75s’ licences.”

The wage hikes, which average nearly £7,000 per person and account for a £7.9million slice of the licence fee, would have paid the £154.50 annual licences for around 51,000 pensioners.

Yet the Beeb has tried to defend the decision, saying the payments last year were for promotions, staff who had taken on extra responsibilities, or for roles regraded under a new simplified wage framework.

The Corporation claims that it has no alternative but to withdraw the free licences because funding the cost of these would lead to the closure of BBC Two, BBC Four and Radio 5 Live.

Read More

Top news stories from Mirror Online

A spokesman said: “While there are rules on increases, it is only right that when people are promoted or take on extra responsibilities it is reflected in salary.”

In June, it was announced the TV licence benefit would be means-tested from next summer.

The result of this is that more than three million pensioners will need to start paying the almost £13-a-month fee.

The BBC was forced to take responsibility for the concession by the Tory Government, which has withdrawn the benefit.

Means-testing will protect those over-75s on pension credit. But more than 600,000 people have signed Age UK’s petition demanding the proposed cuts are scrapped.

And the Mirror’s own campaign is also backed by thousand of readers.

The Office for Budget Responsibility has warned the new system could backfire on the Government and cost the Trea­sury £850million a year.

This is because there has been a rush of people seeking pension credit to qualify for free licences. Around 40% of those eligible had been not claiming the £65 a week.