False Expense Claims Costing UK Businesses

According to a revealing new survey, false and unrealistic expense claims are costing businesses almost £2 billion a year.

The research, carried out by expenses payment firm Soldo, found from a survey pool of thousands of employees across the UK that an average of £117 worth of false claims per person a month were validated and approved. Amounting to £1,404 of unauthorised purchases over the course of a year (and equating to £1.9 billion nationally), Soldo’s findings paint a bleak picture of employees taking advantage of their company’s expenses policies, costing them huge sums of money in the process.

The Extent of Expense Claims Fraud

The true scale of employees who openly admit to committing expense claims fraud is surprising. When asking 2,500 UK employees across a variety of industries if they had overexaggerated expense claims at their company, more than a third admitted claiming expenses for things that they shouldn’t. Following this, one in ten confessed to doing it on a regular basis, with almost one in five admitting that they would make them ‘every now and again’.

The most common types of false expense claims taken from the survey were:

  • Exaggerating travel mileage claims (27%)
  • Purchasing office/business supplies to keep for personal use (20%)
  • Altering taxi receipts to display a higher fare than was paid (16%)

Countering Expense Claims Fraud

Whilst an unprofessional and dishonest practice, employees might not be at total blame for the rise in fraudulent expense claims. When asked, respondents indicated that better and more effective expense systems (along with better expenses supervision) would help to reduce the level of expense claims fraud happening to businesses.

Specialist in Business Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscientist, Dr Lynda Shaw, has the opinion that businesses should implement more transparent and easier to supervise expense claims system within their infrastructure. “It is both expensive and annoying when employees make fraudulent expense claims. It can even threaten trust between employer and employee, which is never a good idea if a business is to run efficiently and effectively.”

Shaw also believes that businesses who suspect expense claims fraud taking place should consider the employee’s current situation. “Rather than look upon your staff with suspicion, think of them as goal driven people who are either focusing on financial progress or ethical conduct. Studies show that they can’t do both at the same time. If you want to bypass this conundrum, putting in an expense claim system that is transparent and easy to implement is a sensible option.”

Majority of UK Workers Unhappy with Their Jobs

Whilst poor and ineffective systems could be a reason for the rise in false expense claims from workers, could there be a larger issue at play? If CV Library’s research on the happiness of UK workers in their current jobs is anything to go by, it could indicate a more worrying issue. According to their survey of over 1,200 UK workers in February 2018, over half admitted to feeling unhappy and dissatisfied in their current work role, despite 92.7% believing that it’s important to be in a job you love.

Of the top 10 reasons why UK workers felt this way, not being paid enough ranked at the top spot, with 38.9% citing this as being the reason they are unhappy at work. Commenting on the findings, founder and Managing Director of CV-Library, Lee Biggins, advises businesses to think about the most important things to employees whilst in the workplace to keep morale high.

“It’s clear that company culture, pay and progression are important to professionals. Be sure that you’re offering fair and competitive packages and that these tie in with creating a great work environment.”

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