Tuesday 26 October 2010

They still don’t get it

The government is cutting left, right and centre (though mostly left if the truth be told).

The Public appear to accept that cuts are needed, but there is also the feeling that we have to pay the price for banker’s recklessness and greed.

So it was a little alarming to overhear the conversation that two “bankers” in both senses of the word, were having on the train between York and Durham today.

I’m not going to name the bank that one of them mentioned they worked for, but it is one that owes the UK tax payers quite a bit of money.

Their discussion revolved around the issue of expenses.

Now before I get accused of glass houses I will put my hands up and say that yes, in my job, occasionally, I have to claim things on expenses. Usually this is for dinner when I’m away at a conference and then I stick well within my employer’s guidelines of keeping bills at under £25 per head.

When you think about it, £25 per head is still quite a bit for dinner, but then I am happy to eat quite cheaply if I’m doing it with other people’s money.

On the other hand my expenses claims are only ever living expenses whilst away from home for work, I’ve never had to “entertain clients” and really can’t think of a reason why I would want to.

The two “bankers” were discussing one’s complaint that his employer was not giving him his entire expenses claim. His employers limit was £70 per head (I don’t think I’ve ever had a meal that cost more than £40 per head, including booze and that was in Iceland!), and he had spent £75 per head “entertaining clients”. He felt that only getting £70 per person back and having to personally take the hit for £20 (there were three “clients”) was grossly unfair.

Now forgive me for being naive, but if an employer sets a limit that’s the upper amount you can claim for. This is only to be reached in exceptional circumstances. It’s not a target to aim to get your claim up to that amount, if you can submit at £40 a head than do that, don’t look to bump it up another £30.

Perhaps I’m in the wrong sector, perhaps I’ve just been stirred up into moral outrage against bankers by the popular press, or perhaps I’m not in the minority of thinking it morally wrong to try and get as much as you can rather than only as much as you need out of expenses.

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