The True Cost of Travelling to Work
15th February 2017
It's amazing the things you get used to. One thing we've noticed at RIFT is that the more you have to travel, the more it becomes just "part of the job" in your mind. If travel to temporary workplaces is a big part of your work, it's easy to end up missing out. We spend a lot of time at RIFT getting people to think more about the money and time they spend travelling for work and helping them to claim it back.
Let's take a look at some hard facts to see how your journeys compare to the rest of the UK.
The first thing to realise is that the average UK commute is 626 miles per month. That's right, an average UK worker travels over 600 miles every month, just to get to work. That stacks up to almost £150 a month in travel costs, or over £1,700 a year! if you think about that in terms of your working life, we're talking about close to 340,000 miles travelled and £135,000 spent.
You've basically gone around the entire circumference of the Earth 13 times there, and spent a year of your life to do it!
The industries that many of our customers work in (Construction, CIS, Armed Forces, Offshore Oil and Gas, Security) involve a lot of travel to different sites and bases - and they are averaging around 1386 miles per month - which is 121% more than the UK average. This is why our customers find that when we do their first tax refund they've actually over paid an average of £2,500 in tax on their work related travel. Money that we can thankfully put back in their pockets.
Those figures are actually still going up, as well. Back in 2003, an average UK worker was looking at a 45-minute journey to work each day. By 2014, that time had risen by almost 10 minutes. It may not sound like all that much but the hours, miles and pounds mount up fast over the years. Now the average UK commute is a whopping 1 hour and 38 minutes - a 105% increase since 2003!
Of course, we're all spending more and travelling further over a lifetime as the retirement age creeps up. It's more important than ever to understand what it's costing you to keep working- and what you should be claiming back. That goes for time, cash and quality of life.
Of course, things get really bad if you're dealing with a London commute...
For a London work journey, you can basically double your travel costs for a start. That's an average of 47p spent per mile, compared to the 24p you're spending getting anywhere else. London workers do tend to travel shorter distances, so spend less overall. Even so, they're getting stung hard when you look at their proportional costs.
That's assuming they're local, of course. The average travel cost of getting into the Big Smoke from outside tops £300 a month - that's twice the UK average! At those prices, over a working lifetime, you're looking at about £200,000 in travel costs. For those keeping score at home, that's the price of a brand-new Aston Martin Vanquish Volante supercar!
It's not all about the money, of course. Over the long term, a rough daily journey to work can be bad news for your physical and mental health as well. High-stress travel through rush-hour traffic shortens lives as well as just careers. Long hours of work travel have been linked to poor eating habits and lack of exercise. After all, there only so many hours in a day for cooking and hitting the gym. Too much travel stress wears down your mind and your body. That's why it's so important to put thought into the miles and hours you're clocking up. It's also why you need to be sure you aren't overfeeding the taxman at the same time.
If you're travelling to temporary workplaces, and shelling out for it yourself, you need to be claiming your yearly tax refunds. So many people are still missing out, ending up pumping millions of pounds too much into HMRC's pockets - in fact about £80m per year sits unclaimed at HRMC. That's money that could be going into looking after your health, or taking a much needed holiday to de-stress yourself.
You can reclaim cash for the last 4 years of work travel, so it may not be too late to claim for years you've missed. The average 4-year claim we see at RIFT comes to £2,500, so get in touch if you think you might qualify. It costs nothing to find out how much you're owed, and you don't pay a penny until your refund comes through.
Get in touch with to RIFT get the ball rolling. We'll take care of the taxman, so you can take better care of yourself.