HR & Management

5 years after MPs' expenses scandal, UK hasn't learnt its lesson

2 min read

08 May 2014

A YouGov study – timed to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the MPs expenses scandal – revealed that 53 per cent of British workers whose organisation has an expense policy, felt the scandal made ‘no difference’ to how carefully their company scrutinises their expenses.

Despite this, 20 per cent felt it would be ‘easy’ to use the expenses system to ‘claim money for their own benefit’ and 29 per cent of British workers admitted to ‘not fully understanding’ their employer’s expenses policy. It begs the question; has British business learned its lesson five years on?

David Vine, Managing Director UK at Concur believes UK employers must act to improve their systems for the benefit of their bottom line and employees: “As a UK taxpayer, I am incensed by what happened at Westminster five years ago. However, what concerns me even more is the fact that businesses are in danger of making the same mistakes. 

“We’ve seen first-hand and very publicly exactly what happens when there is a lack of education and transparency around the expenses process. The study shows that there is still a lack of understanding and, in some cases, an opportunity for individuals to take advantage of the system.”

The study also revealed that 68 per cent of Brits feel ‘angry’ and ‘appalled’ (67 per cent) about the expenses scandal in general,  while 55 per cent feel ‘betrayed’. But only one in ten British workers has consciously taken a more careful approach to submitting their own expenses since the scandal, and for the majority (53 per cent) the revelations in Westminster have made ‘no difference’ to how much attention they pay when entering claims.

Vine suggests that “there is a certain irony that despite widespread condemnation of our MPs’ conduct, a large chunk of the UK workforce hasn’t tightened up how it submits its own expenses since the scandal. Again, the responsibility for changing this behaviour sits with the business. 

“Expenses shouldn’t be based on ‘unwritten rules’ or left open to individual interpretation, they must be clearly set out, in black and white and regularly shared with every employee in the company. Failure to take control can lead companies down a path that could be costly or even worse.”

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