85% of UK employees stretching the truth with expenses claims

New survey identifies expenses ‘angels’ and ‘devils’ among the UK’s workforce.

Research by webexpenses reveals a staggering number of UK employees admit to bending the rules when it comes to submitting their expense claims.

business expenses

Online expenses management provider, webexpenses, found that 85% of workers admit to submitting a dodgy expenses claim within the last year. What’s more, 5% admitted to over-claiming every time they submit a claim, with a further one in ten employees stating they had considered submitting a fraudulent expenses claim but had never done so.

Despite confessions of their own dishonest behaviour, the research also found a third of employees felt politicians were the worst at over-claiming on their expenses. In addition, when it comes to how much people actually over-claim, the research found that in the past 12 months, a quarter of employees (25%) admit to claiming a figure of over £250, with 22% over-claiming between £50-£100, and one in five (20%) owning-up to over-claiming between £10-£50.

Research respondents confessed that the top reasons for over-claiming on expenses were: people believing everyone else in their organisation does it and therefore they should do the same (22%); not feeling they are paid enough and their company owes them more money (17%); admitting they did so as it was easy to get away with (12%).

What’s more, it appears older people are the worst at over-claiming on their expenses, with around a quarter of people aged 45-54 (26%) and 55+ (24%) confessing to exaggerating claims by over £500. Yet over-claiming on expenses isn’t guilt free. When asked how they would feel if they were caught over-claiming, 41% admitted that they would feel embarrassed, while 38% worried they may receive a warning or lose their job. Interestingly, 11% stated they would use getting caught as an opportunity to bring up work-related grievances.

Commenting on the findings, Adam Reynolds, CEO of webexpenses stated, “It’s clear from the research that there are far too many people over claiming on expenses in the UK workplace – people we call expenses devils. When presented with the opportunity to over-claim and get away with it, some people will, unsurprisingly, choose the dishonest option. In fact, one respondent to our research even admitted to over-claiming by more than £4,000. What’s more the research also shows that having a small group of expenses devils in the workplace, can encourage others to follow similar behaviour when it comes to expense claims.”

“There will always be those looking to exploit the system, however it’s up to businesses to put the right measures in place to better control expenses and minimise false over claims. Along with pay, expenses is one of the most easily controllable costs for businesses. Organisations need to work to create an environment where fraudulent behaviour is not legitimised. By using cloud-based expenses software like webexpenses, in conjunction with robust and clear expense policies, companies can reduce false or exaggerated claims and save themselves a substantial amount of money – while also creating a workforce of expenses angels.”

Some of the most common examples of expenses fraud include over a third of respondents (36%) confessing to taking a taxi rather than using public transport, a similar number (34%) admitting to buying themselves food on the way back from a client meeting, and 15% owning-up to taking friends out for food and claiming it back on expenses.

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