Tough times compel more to fiddle expenses

Indignation over MPs’ expenses looks as tenuous as the claims they made by a survey showing that the UK workforce is increasingly on the fiddle with their own meals, mileage and entertainment.

Twelve months ago, the chunk of staff admitting to inflating claims for such allowable items was 15 per cent. Today it’s 25 per cent, suggesting a quarter of the workforce intentionally recoups too much.

Asked by YouGov why they overstated the costs they incurred, employees who drove to carry out their work said the mileage allowances often failed to cover the total price of car journeys.

Off the road, the workers’ justifications included working long hours, ‘following by example’ – as they claimed their bosses were fiddling expenses, or not being paid enough, the Guardian reported.

“People are struggling with their mortgages, they’re not getting pay rises, they’re not getting bonuses they were expecting,” Global Expense, the firm behind the findings, told the newspaper.

“There’s a danger that people will wonder why they shouldn’t get the money back elsewhere,” added chief executive David Vine, reflecting on claims ranging from taxis to takeaways.

According to the findings, which are due to be fully released this week, more than fifth (22 per cent) of workers believe it is “acceptable” to exaggerate expenses by as much as a tenth.

That represents growth from a year ago, when 14 per cent said the same, but is still down on the 30 per cent seen before MPs were found to have claimed expenses for swimming pool cleaning, interior design and duck houses.

Dec 20, 2010