More than four in 10 fiddle expenses, finds survey

Webexpenses estimates that businesses could be losing around £100 million per year to falsified and exaggerated claims.
Webexpenses estimates that businesses could be losing around £100 million per year to falsified and exaggerated claims.

More than eight in 10 workers have never had expense claims challenged or declined, according to research by software company webexpenses.

It found that 42% of workers felt they could make fraudulent claims that would be unlikely to be challenged, providing they were “sensible”.

The most common claim was for transport (57% of respondents), with almost half of those claiming for mileage extending the number of miles they had travelled. According to 43% this was acceptable because “everyone over-claims” so they did not see an issue with it.

More than half of workers (51%) believed that if they travelled for work, they deserved a treat, and 16% confessed to treating themselves, their partner or children while away on a business trip.

Just over a quarter (26%) had specifically asked taxi drivers for blank receipts so they could exaggerate the cost.

Businesses could be losing around £100m a year to falsified and exaggerated claims, calculated webexpenses, with the average number of false claims reported as 11.

Cumulative impact

Although many transgressions discovered in webexpenses’ research were insignificant they had the potential to cumulatively have a detrimental effect on company finances. And some were more brazen with one respondent claiming for a digital SLR camera and another for a gas cooker.

Adam Reynolds, CEO at webexpenses, said there had been a “shift to more subtle methods” that raised no red flags, and this showed the changing pattern in expenses fraud.

He said the most prominent area was that of mileage claims but “this could be down to employees feeling it’s completely innocent just rounding up and with a manual process it’s a lot harder to identify”.

Because there were inadequate checks for expenses fraud, according to 42% of respondents, he added, “this ultimately allows fraud to continue ticking on and the longer employees get away with it the more accepted it becomes and the less guilty they feel”.

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