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DisCARDed expenses: Misplaced receipts and unclaimed costs mean UK workers lose out on £962 million

29 Jul 2018 19:01

  • Top of the list of reasons for failing to file expenses include deeming the value ‘too low to be worth the hassle’ and losing receipts
  • Half of those who incur business costs are frustrated at having to pay for them using their own funds before being reimbursed by their company
  • More than a third have experienced cash flow issues while waiting for their expense claims to be reconciled, with almost one in ten even missing a payment on a personal credit card as a result
  • Visiting in-laws, ironing and cleaning the house are all activities workers would rather do than submitting their expenses

British workers who incur expenses are collectively losing out on £962 million* by failing to submit all of their claims. In the last year alone, the average value of unclaimed expenses totalled £123 per person among those that have failed to submit their expenses. To mark the 50th anniversary of Barclaycard launching the UK’s first corporate credit card, a new poll of employees who incur expenses reveals that 48 per cent are still using personal funds to cover business costs.New research from Barclaycard, which today marks the 50th anniversary of launching the corporate credit card in the UK, explores how spending habits have changed since the height of the ‘Mad Men’ era of business.

Almost six in ten (59 per cent) have failed to file their expenses, with over a third (37 per cent) citing the value being ‘too low to be worth the hassle’ and lost receipts (33 per cent) as the top reasons for not claiming money they are owed.

In the 50 years since Barclaycard launched the first credit card in the name of a business rather than an individual, it seems British expensing habits have changed significantly. Today’s workers are claiming an average of £907 a year** – less than half the value that those in the ‘Mad Men’ heyday of the 1960s and 1970s regularly claimed (£2,335 and £1,854 in today’s equivalent money, respectively).

Despite the five decades that have passed, however, less than one in five (16 per cent) respondents have access to a corporate card – so it’s perhaps unsurprising that half (49 per cent) are frustrated by having to pay for business expenses from their own funds and then waiting to be reimbursed. 37 per cent have faced cash flow issues by paying expenses out of their own pocket, and almost one in ten (8 per cent) has even missed a payment on a personal credit card while waiting to be paid back.

It’s all fair game

Of those who do make the effort to claim, the aim is to recoup all that they can – with £7.36 being, on average, the smallest amount Brits will claim. 46 per cent believe that any spending during the working day, even a coffee, is fair game and should be claimed for, no matter how small. One in six (17 per cent) also admit to claiming for items costing under a pound.

Despite taking an average of less than 25 minutes to complete, it’s the process of submitting expenses which puts people off. In fact, there is a long list of chores giving expenses a ‘run for their money’ in the boring stakes. Brits would happily choose to do any of the following over claiming back their cash:

  1. Take care of the weekly shop
  2. Go to the gym
  3. Take the bins out
  4. Clean the house
  5. Weed the garden
  6. Iron
  7. Visit in-laws
  8. Speak in front of a crowd
  9. Clear out the loft or garage
  10. Go to the dentist

Marc Pettican, Managing Director of Commercial Payments at Barclaycard, said:

“Card payments are now the norm for the purchases we make in our everyday lives, so it’s surprising that so few employees have access to a card for business expenses. Our research shows this has caused frustrations for many, especially when their own finances are affected. Businesses can remove a lot of this headache by looking at the corporate payment options available to their employees. For many, having access to corporate cards could ease some of the challenges around submitting expenses and encourage employees to claim back the money they are rightly owed.”

“Today marks half a century since Barclaycard introduced corporate cards to the UK and our products have evolved to be easier to use than ever – now you can even push a one-time-use card specifically to someone’s mobile, so it’s never been simpler for business owners to find a solution that suits their needs.”

Annie Shaw, personal finance expert commented:

“It’s now 50 years since a credit card in the name of a business, rather than a consumer, came on to the market – so it’s eye-opening that, after all this time, only one in five UK workers who incur expenses have access to one. With some resorting to paying out of their own pocket to cover company costs, it’s clear action needs to be taken to prevent employees footing the bill. However, the responsibility also lies with the individual and there are several simple steps everyone can take to make sure they claim back any business costs they’ve paid for.

“It may sound simple but my main advice for those who submit expenses is to make sure it’s done on time. It’s also important to hang on to receipts – making use of email receipts where possible for ease – and trying to make regular time in the working week to go through the process. There are also several ways businesses can make it easier for workers to complete their expenses, including providing corporate credit cards and encouraging them to submit claims on time.”

Where it all began, a brief history of Barclaycard’s innovation in payments

  • 1966: Barclaycard launches the first UK credit card with a team of just 30 people headquartered in an old shoe and boot factory in Northampton. Barclaycard’s acquiring arm, which processes transactions, also gets started.
  • 1968: Barclaycard introduces the UK’s first Company Credit Card to help businesses make payments and keep track of expenses among their staff.
  • 1986: Barclaycard rolls out electronic card payment machines (PDQs) following the first deployment at a Miss Selfridge store in Brent Cross Shopping Centre, London.
  • 1995: Barclaycard is the first UK credit card company to go online with Barclaycard Netlink. At first consumers were only able to pay utility bills, but by 1997 they could also check statements and settle their accounts with a debit card.
  • 2003: Barclaycard rolls out Chip and PIN to over half of the adult population and almost 1,000 businesses in Northampton. An industry-wide rollout follows later that year.
  • 2007: Barclaycard pioneers contactless payments in the UK with the OnePulse card, which can also be used on London’s transport network.
  • 2012: Barclaycard is the first UK company to introduce wearable payment devices.
  • 2014: Barclaycard worked with TfL on the first phase of introducing contactless to London’s tubes, trains buses and ferries by aiding the evolution of the yellow Oyster card readers to enable them to read contactless cards.
  • 2015: Barclaycard creates the nation’s first payments fashion wearables through partnerships with TOPSHOP and Lyle & Scott.
  • 2016: Barclaycard launches ‘Android Contactless Mobile’ and becomes the first financial services brand in the UK to allow customers to make contactless payments on their Android phone, by enabling high value contactless payments for up to £100 to be made without the need to use a card.
  • Today: Barclaycard has 9.6 million consumer cardholders and more than 300,000 business customers in the UK.

Notes to editors

*£962,445,429 figure calculated by first calculating the total population that fail to submit an expense by multiplying the total population of 25-65 year olds who claim business expenses (39 per cent - 13,268,777) and the proportion of people who have failed to submit an expense claim (59 per cent) which equates to 7,828,578. The second stage is then to multiply the total population that fail to submit an expense (7,828,578) by the average mean total value of unclaimed expenses (£122.94).

**Figures calculated based on research conducted by YouGov from 06/07/2018 – 13/07/2018 sent to workers 65+ (who are retired), who claimed expenses in either 1960s/1970s/1980s/1990s/2000s. Minimum quota of 100 per decade.

All other research conducted by YouGov from 06/07/2018 – 26/07/2018 surveying 2,057 UK working adults (25-65) who incur expenses.

For more information, please contact Rebecca Butler at Barclaycard on Rebecca.butler@barclaycard.co.uk or 020 7116 1993.


About Barclaycard

Barclaycard, part of Barclays Bank PLC, is a leading global payment business that helps consumers, retailers and businesses to make and take payments flexibly, and to access short-term credit and point-of-sale finance. In 2017 we processed over £250bn in transactions globally. Barclaycard is a pioneer of new forms of payment and is at the forefront of developing viable contactless and mobile payment schemes for today and cutting-edge forms of payment for the future. We also partner with a wide range of organisations across the globe to offer their customers or members payment options and credit.

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