IN ITS LATEST sidelong glance at the nation's spurious expense claims, budget hotel chain Travelodge says that "cheeky" employees are swindling their bosses out of more than £1 billion a year.
Travelodge surveyed 3,000 claimants to uncover "evidence" that 18 per cent of employees overcharge their employer by an average £17 every month.
Among the more unusual items, which have been bought using the ill-gotten gains, are said to be Viagra, tap dancers, a goat (a charitable gift made via Oxfam) and "a hamster called Barry for the office".
Trying to put a serious spin on the findings, Travelodge chief operating officer Guy Parsons says: "In today's climate, companies cannot afford to splurge on ridiculous expense claims from their workers. Even everyday claims such as taxis and the odd bottle of wine can really rack up a business bill over the year."
More than 40 per cent of employees believe such fiddles are a legitimate way of earning extra cash, and more than 80 per cent feel no remorse about diddling their employers.