A new study from CV-Library reveals that the average Brit spends £205 a month on work-related expenses, including lunch, commuting and stationary. That’s equivalent to £2,460 a year! Do you think that’s fair? How much does location make a difference? Learning to Leap explores the findings and hears from Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library.

Average expenses by location

work expensesThe survey of 1,000 workers sought to discover just how much the average professional spends on work-related expenses each year, and where their money is going. The data found that while the majority (80%) are careful to factor these expenses into their monthly budget, some cities are more expensive to work in than others. In fact, the most expensive cities to work in include:

  1. London – £425 a month (equivalent to £5,100 a year)
  2. Bristol – £360 a month (equivalent to £4,320 a year)
  3. Brighton – £350 a month (equivalent to £4,200 a year)
  4. Cardiff – £305 a month (equivalent to £3,660 a year)
  5. Leeds – £294 a month (equivalent to £3,528 a year)
  6. Liverpool – £270 a month (equivalent to £3,240 a year)
  7. Edinburgh – £254 a month (equivalent to £3,048 a year)
  8. Birmingham – £210 a month (equivalent to £2,520 a year)
  9. Glasgow – £200 a month (equivalent to £2,400 a year)
  10. Manchester – £170 a month (equivalent to £2,040 a year)

CV-Library’s Lee Biggins says:

While we expect to invest a portion of our wages back into our everyday life, it’s concerning to learn just how much professionals across the nation are losing on work-related expenses. After all, we go to work to earn money – not spend it!

As an employer, it can be tricky to draw the line between what you should and shouldn’t be funding. While there will always be some costs that are unavoidable for employees, it’s important that you’re not expecting them to fork out for basic necessities that your business should be providing.

What expenses top the list?

Professionals were asked to reveal the work-related costs they pay out each month. Unsurprisingly, commuting/travel topped the list (78.1%), followed by lunch (73.1%), morning coffee (25.5%), socialising with colleagues (17.1%) and stationary (13.1%). Interestingly, 70.5% of workers believe that employers should pay for some, if not all, work-related costs.

Finally, Biggins concludes:

It’s understandable that professionals want their employers to cover some of these costs, particularly when it comes to essentials such as travel and stationary. However, if you’re offering a competitive enough salary, this should cover a number of work expenses anyway. So, ensure that you’re providing staff with fair pay.

It can also be helpful to offer money-saving benefits and perks that will support your employees in keeping the costs down. For example, you could offer discounts on travel or allow staff to work from home a few days a week to cut the costs of their commute.

From an employee perspective, Learning to Leap sees the approach to work-related expenses as a reflection of organisational culture, trade-offs, and personal choices. For example, your preferred means of travel to work might depend on what suits your wellbeing. However, one form of transport can be more expensive than another (and many don’t have the choice). Some people like to buy their own stylish pen or notebook rather than use the company stationary. Then there are the much-debated arguments about the dress code and who should pay for what.

What the survey findings do prompt is a greater awareness of some of the hidden costs behind the choices we make about where we work and the culture of the organisation we join.

What’s your view? How fair is the balance between you and your employer’s contributions to work-related expenses?

Thanks for the bulk of this post go to our friends at CV-Library, one of the UK’s largest online job sites and attracts over 4.3 million unique job seekers every month. Founded in 2000, it is the UK’s leading independent online job board with a database of over 13 million CVs.