Employees who go the extra mile

It's an open secret that people scam their mileage expenses - so why isn't more being done to stop it?

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

In a survey by IT company Software Europe, about a third of employees admitted that they exaggerated their mileage claims on expense forms – and 90% reckon they get away with it every time. They don’t even feel bad about it: some claimed that it was reasonable compensation for working late, others saw it as a top-up to their meagre salary.

Since mileage accounts for about 50% of all expense claims (and is by far the easiest thing to exaggerate) this adds up to an expensive problem for British business. However, nobody appears to be doing anything much about it – not least because mileage claims are so hard to track and verify, particularly if you rely on paper-based record keeping.

But even when fraudulent claims are identified, the perpetrators aren’t always brought to book. Software Europe was particularly aghast at the attitude of one Government agency, on discovering that one of their employees was exaggerating her claims by 25% every time. ‘Because this involved only taxpayers’ money, neither line managers nor accounts staff had any appetite to tackle the problem’, it gasped, in its best Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells voice. Which just goes to show: if you want to fiddle your expenses, get a job in the public sector.

Software Europe’s solution, as you’d expect, is to buy their all-singing all-dancing expenses software rather than relying on paper records. If people know that the forces of IT are massed against them, the company suggests, they’ll be less likely to take liberties. And this could chop up to 20% off your expense bill.

Or alternatively, you could just get your staff to take the train instead. OK, so they might not get to any of their meetings on time. But at least you’ll know exactly how much it costs.

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