Employees bump-up expense claims during downturn

A third of UK employees think it is acceptable to exaggerate their expense claims and see pay freezes during the economic downturn as a legitimate reason to do so.

According to new research from expense management provider GlobalExpense, 30% of all adults believe it is acceptable to exaggerate claims and one in five expense-claiming adults have already done so, at an average of £13.81 each per last claim.

More than one in ten (13%) also say it is likely or very likely they will fiddle their expenses if they think they can get away with it if they get into financial trouble, yet 95% of respondents said that their employer had never queried or rejected an expense claim for being too high.

David Vine, managing director at GlobalExpense, said: “The writing is on the wall. The further the country falls into recession and people feel the pinch, the more employees are being tempted to fiddle their expenses. Adding around £14 to an expense claim may not sound much, but with over 3.7 million employees in the UK who claim expenses, the amount of money that businesses are losing every day through fraudulent claims will be tens of millions of pounds. At a time when many businesses are battling with banks over their borrowings, every penny counts.”

The survey, based on a representative sample of 1,970 adults, revealed that more than a third (38%) of people who have made fraudulent claims add £5 or less, while 2% add more than £100 to each claim.

The most common reason for inflated claims was when the mileage rate paid by the employer doesn’t cover the actual car and fuel costs (76%), followed by when pay has not risen with inflation (40%), when the employer is slow at paying back expenses (29%), and when employees don’t think they are paid fairly (28%).