Is your journey to work getting you down?

Is your journey to work getting you down?

Oct 05, 2017

Whether you commute to a place of work or have to visit clients regularly, there’s no doubt about it, the rush hour is a grind, especially if you have to face it every day.

With frequent workplace changes, contractors often have a particularly hard time, furthermore, Umbrella employees must consider the length of time they spend on a particular assignment and worksite when assessing whether travel costs for their commute (between home and place of work) are classed as expenses.  While limited company contractors can claim back the cost of travel to clients’ premises, they still remain at the mercy of the motorways and trains, and are affected by recent changes to HMRC rules on the amount that can be claimed. No wonder a recent survey found that most workers would leave their employer for a shorter or less frequent commute.

What the survey found

The Office for National Statistics survey involved 3,000 workers, 82% of whom must commute to work. Of these commuters, 16% spend more than one hour each day travelling – almost one in five (18%) said they ‘hate it’.

Of those who wanted to improve their commute, 30% cited the money saving as the benefit, and 71% said it would make them more productive.

Interestingly, 60% would leave their employer for a shorter (33%) or less frequent (32%) commute.

Impact on wellbeing

The report concludes that a lengthy commute has a negative impact on wellbeing. It states that feelings of ‘happiness, life satisfaction and the sense that one’s activities are worthwhile all decrease with every successive minute of travel to work’.

Commuting as a contractor

Because contractors are likely to move workplace more frequently, commuting can become a real headache, and an additional cost.

Unless you secure a long-term contract, it’s likely that your journey to work, and the impact on your personal time, will change with each new contract. As a result, it can be difficult to balance the frequent disruption to morning and evening routines.

Contractors who have joined an umbrella company like Umbrella Plus also need to take into account the cost of travel to their place of work, particularly as HMRC’s rules have altered recently regarding what can be claimed as a legitimate expense in this area.

Limited company contractors don’t have it easy either, though the fact that they can claim travel expenses to client meetings, site visits etc (if the workplace is defined as home). This does improve the situation somewhat.

Please note, if you are a limited company contractor and you claim mileage expenses, it’s important to be aware that HMRC has introduced new, increased mileage rates as follows:

  • 0 – 1400cc vehicles – £0.11 (petrol) and £0.09 (diesel)
  • 1401-2000 cc vehicles – £0.13 (petrol) and £0.11 (diesel)
  • Over 2000cc vehicles – £0.21 (petrol) and £0.12 (diesel)

What to do?

As specialist contractor accountants, we are always happy to provide the advice and support you need to enjoy life as a contractor, so please get in touch.

Further reading:
Is a PSC right for you?

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