SMEs lose nearly £1.2BN by not reclaiming VAT each year

Sarah Keane at fuelGenie, who commissioned the survey said: “Petrol is the most common expense claimed by UK SME employees (60.5%) yet one in four fuel expenses are submitted without a receipt. SME owners need to clamp down on lax attitudes to expenses or risk losing much needed cash at a time when profits are under extreme pressure. Ensuring corporate expense policies are followed is something that can have a big effect on a company’s bottom line.”

fuelGenie’s calculations show that on average, a VAT-registered company with five vehicles could reclaim around £1,000 for petrol per year, meaning that they are losing out on at least £250 of that.

Breaking the data down by region, the research found that when it comes to fuel-related expenses, SME employees in Scotland are the worst, with 40% never submitting a receipt, so 2 in 5 fuel VAT reclaim opportunities are lost in Scotland. Scottish employees were closely followed by SME employees in the South West (32.4%) and the South East (31.9%).

Employees working for SMEs in Northern Ireland came out on top, with a surprising100% always submitting a receipt. SME employees in Wales followed close behind, with only 6.35% admitting to never submitting a receipt.

When it comes to fuel expenses, older SME employees (45-54yr olds) are the worst offenders with nearly one third (31.2%) never submitting a fuel expense receipt. Employees in the 16–24 age bracket exercised the most robust expense practises with 84.2% always or sometimes submitting fuel expense receipts.

Surprisingly, SME employees working in the legal sector are the worst offenders across all the industries, with 60% never submitting a receipt with fuel expenses.

Stephen Roper, Professor of Enterprise at the Centre for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, Warwick Business School, said: “The fuelGenie research highlights just how important it is for SMEs to have strong financial management. During times of economic difficulty, one of the main reasons why SMEs go under is because they run out of cash. However sound a business is in other ways, successful cash flow management should be a key priority as it is crucial to success.”

Sarah Keane at fuelGenie continued: “When it comes to fuel expenditure, one way in which managers can better control cashflow is by offering staff a fuel card, which provides an easy way for businesses to carefully track, measure and control fuel usage and expenditure. The employer pays the overall bill centrally (removing the need to collate, process and store masses of receipts) and also receives detailed management information about usage.”

Sarah Keane continues: “fuelGenie is all about saving businesses time and money whilst making the process of petrol purchase and expense tracking hassle-free. fuelGenie users benefit from one monthly bill with a VAT breakdown to make it simple to reclaim VAT.”

Accepted at conveniently-located Morrisons and Tesco stores, fuelGenie provides an easy way for businesses of all sizes to pay less for fuel. With fuelGenie, the more vehicles a company has, the higher the cost saving – average annual savings (based on the number of vehicles) are:

  • 5 vehicles = £200
  • 50 vehicles = £2,000
  • 100 vehicles = £4,000
  • 250 vehicles = £10,000