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Most UK employees admit to over-claiming on expenses in 2014

Over-claiming on expenses is commonplace in the UK workforce, according to a survey

More than eight in 10 (85%) UK employees have stretched the truth with their expenses claims at least once in 2014, according to research from expenses management software provider webexpenses.

Five per cent of workers admitted that every expenses claim they submit is fraudulent in some way. Just 10% said they have never made a fraudulent claim, despite contemplating the idea at some point.

Survey examples of over-claiming include the use of taxis instead of public transport, and claiming for snacks and expensive meals.

The amounts that employees have claimed over the past year were also surveyed:

  • 25% over-claimed £250 or more
  • 22% over-claimed £50 to £100
  • 20% over-claimed £10 to £50

A correlation between age and over-claiming was discovered, with 26% of those aged 45 to 54 and 24% of people aged 55-plus admitting to over-claiming more than £500.

Respondents were also asked how they would feel if their over-claiming was discovered:

  • 41% said they would be embarrassed
  • 38% would worry they may receive a warning or lose their job
  • 11% would use the opportunity to bring up grievances

Reasons cited for over-claiming included a belief that others in their organisation also over-claimed, a feeling of being poorly paid, and seeing over-claiming as easy to get away with.

Adam Reynolds, CEO of webexpenses, said there are far too many “expenses devils”. “When presented with the opportunity to over-claim and get away with it some people will choose the dishonest option,” he said. “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.”

He added: “Along with pay, expenses are one of the most easily controllable costs for businesses. Organisations need to work to create an environment where fraudulent behaviour is not legitimised.”