THE SNP has hit out at the BBC’s “deeply concerning” decision to cut around 60 jobs in Scotland as part £6.2 million savings plan.

The changes are to take effect by March 2021 and have been blamed on “ongoing financial challenges compounded by the effects of Covid-19”.

Donalda MacKinnon, the BBC Scotland director, told staff that while efficiencies have been identified, the headcount has to be reduced.

John Nicolson MP, the SNP’s shadow media spokesperson at Westminster, said: “This is deeply concerning, not least for the journalists and their families working in Pacific Quay and BBC studios around the country.

“The need for reliable and relevant news has never been greater.

“There remains a BBC licence fee underspend in Scotland. If that was reversed and Scotland got back what it has put in then these proposed cuts could surely be stopped.”

Overall the BBC’s Nation and Regions have been set target savings of £24.1m in 2021 and £27.8m in 2021-2022.

As 80% of their budget is spent on staff costs, the required savings will involve substantial job cuts.

In Wales, where £6m of savings have been made over the past three years, the target is £4.5m, which is also equivalent to 60 posts.

Between 30 and 40 losses are predicted in Northern Ireland, which needs to save £3.6m. Fewer resources are to be spent there on the 10.30pm bulletin, with coverage of political party conferences to be watered-down.

The figures for England are not yet known, but the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) says these are expected to be “substantial”.

The corporation has called on all staff to consider applying for voluntary redundancy.

Paul Siegert, NUJ national broadcasting organiser, said the changes are “extremely worrying”.

He said: “The BBC says it wants to get out of London and better reflect the make-up of the UK. These job cuts will make that far harder.

“It will also mean less scrutiny and holding to account of local politicians and decision-makers.

“If the BBC shrinks and reduces news coverage in these areas there is no-one else that will be able to step in and fill the void left behind.”

BBC Scotland’s headcount is currently at around 1100, with its ranks increased by 250 in recent years as the new BBC Scotland channel launched and network programming increased.