The number of senior managers at the BBC earning over £150,000 a year has risen despite a promise by the publicly-funded broadcaster to cut the figure by a fifth, the UK's spending watchdog said today. 

The UK's National Audit Office said there were 98 members of staff earning such salaries in March 2016 compared to January 2012 when there were just 89.

This was despite the fact that the BBC had committed itself to a 20% reduction. 

It also said the BBC had failed to reduce the number of senior managers to 1% of the workforce by 2015, with the figure at 1.6% in December 2016. 

Last year the British government said the BBC would be subject to external regulation for the first time in its history amid criticism it had become bloated, inefficient and wasteful of public money. 

Overall, the BBC, which employs an average of 18,920 full-time staff, had reduced the cost of its payroll by 6%in real terms from 2010-11 to 2015-16 to £862m, the NAO said. 

Its report said the BBC had also made 3,400 staff redundant over this period at a cost of £190m. 

In response to the NAO report, the BBC said it would finish a review of senior manager grades in the coming months and expected the number in its leadership group to make up less than 1% of the workforce. 

"We will continue to manage the paybill carefully and only award salary levels that are appropriate whilst ensuring we can still attract the right senior talent in a highly competitive marketplace," it said in a statement.