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UK Public Sector Tougher on Expense Exaggerating Than Private Sector

A recent survey of over 1,200 UK workers commissioned by Concur, a leading provider of integrated travel and expense management solutions, whose expense management, audit and compliance services are used by thousands of companies across the globe, has revealed that public sector workers have a much stricter attitude towards expense exaggerating than their private sector counterparts.

The data shows that while just 13 per cent of workers in public sector organisations were willing to condone expense exaggeration, over twice as many workers in very large private companies (over 750 employees) judged expense exaggerating ‘acceptable’ (28 per cent). Highlighting the need for organisations of all types to take a harder look at their expense reporting processes, just over one in ten of those surveyed admitted to actually exaggerating an expense claim within the past year.

David Vine, Managing Director, UK SMB, Concur comments: “In recent years, the public sector has faced significant publicised scrutiny over the accuracy of expense claims, resulting in a mandate for increased transparency. As such, we’ve witnessed a reduction in those in the public sector who think exaggerating expenses is acceptable (14% in 2011 compared to 13% in 2012). In a tough economy with little spare cash, it’s imperative that attitudes within the private sector towards expenses quickly follows suit.”

The study also shows that more than one in ten (11%) UK workers claiming expenses in the last year had exaggerated them, either rarely or more often. Of those that admitted exaggerating a claim, over two thirds (68 per cent) cited their reason was ‘to make up for the times when I forgot’. Almost a third (32 per cent) blamed their decision to exaggerate a claim on the fact that ‘money is tight’, suggesting the tough economic situation is taking its toll on the UK workforce.

Only 7 per cent of those surveyed who claimed expenses over the past year had an expense claim queried or rejected for being out of policy or lacking proper receipt documentation, suggesting large numbers of inflated reports could be slipping through the UK’s books. Moreover, when asked which best describes how they usually submit their claims in their current job, just under half (41 per cent) still rely on a manual paper-based system, and around a quarter (26 per cent) put their faith in a simple spread sheet. Only 27 per cent use an automated system to manage the expense submission process.

David Vine continues: “Our data suggests that over one in ten employees are exaggerating their expenses and the reliance on manual-based expense management processes exacerbates the problem, as it exposes businesses to unnecessary revenue leakage due to the lack of checks and balances in the system. Expense automation can reduce expense processing costs by up to 50 to 60 per cent and can increase travel policy compliance by up to 30 to 50 per cent1.”

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Notes for editors

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,054 adults, of whom 1,229 were working part time or full time. Fieldwork was undertaken between 4th - 6th December 2012. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

About Concur

Concur is a leading provider of integrated travel and expense management solutions. Concur’s easy-to-use Web-based and mobile solutions help companies and their employees control costs and save time. Concur Connect is the platform that enables the entire travel and expense ecosystem of customers, suppliers, and developers to access and extend Concur’s T&E cloud. Concur’s systems adapt to individual employee preferences and scale to meet the needs of companies from small to large. Learn more at or the Concur blog.

1 A Travel and Expense Management Guide for UK Businesses, Aberdeen Group, November 2012

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