All BBC public sector staff based in the UK have been asked to register interest in taking voluntary redundancy.

Director general Lord Hall has announced the plans as he warned the corporation needs to make savings of £125 million this year.

In a note sent to staff which has been seen by Yahoo News UK, Hall explained the Tory Government’s decision to stop funding licence fees for over-75s had put a significant strain on finances. Around 3.7m pensioners who previously received a free TV licence will have to pay when new rules come into force in August.

Hall says the coronavirus pandemic has increased the financial difficulties.

The broadcast boss hopes the voluntary scheme will prevent compulsory redundancies.

He adds: “We know hard choices are necessary. Over a third of our costs – across the BBC – relate to our people. That’s why we’re introducing this voluntary redundancy programme.”

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Staff are invited to signal their interest in voluntary redundancy from tomorrow. It’s understood the scheme will be open to all public service employees based in the UK and at all levels. There would be no guarantee the request will be accepted, and any redundancies will be based on business need.

Parts of the corporation, including BBC News have already announced plans to axe jobs. Such cost-cutting measures had been postponed because of the coronavirus crisis but are now being restarted.

A BBC spokesperson said: “The impact of the coronavirus pandemic means the BBC needs to make £125m of savings this financial year, in addition to the considerable efficiency savings the Corporation had previously committed to and planned for.

“The BBC’s challenge is to keep delivering programmes and services for the whole country while continuing to adapt and change.

“The BBC is therefore inviting public service staff to express an interest in voluntary redundancy. This is a necessary process to ensure the BBC meets the challenges of a fast-changing media environment within its financial perimeters.”