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News Article

12% of income spent on work costs

Published 8 January 2013 by

One in every eight pounds earned in a full-time job goes on expenses like travel, food, equipment and clothes for work.

That's the equivalent of £1,843 a year of an average salary - just to work. That's according to research by Santander 123 World, as reported in The Telegraph.

Londoners spend the most, £3,561 a year on average, although salaries are higher there than the rest of the country. By comparison, West Midland workers have the lowest work overheads in the UK - just £1,668.


The biggest single expense is commuting: £782 a year on public transport, and that's before the recent increase in train fares and other transport.

Drivers spend even more on commuting: £829 on fuel, £65 on parking and £32 on congestion charges.

Money-saving tips: Owning and running a car generally costs more than public transport. If you think you could do without a car, switching to public transport could save you money. Or, if you have two cars, could you get by with one? Car-sharing is another way that drivers who work bring their overheads down.


The 20% of workers who pay for childcare spend an average of £3,632 a year on nurseries and child-minders.

Money-saving tips: Some employers offer childcare vouchers as part of a benefits package. If there is a friend or relative who could help with childcare, that can also bring costs down. Two-parent families may have the option of one parent stopping work, or working part time.

In many cases, childcare is an unavoidable expense, but working parents may be entitled to extra Tax Credits to help with the cost.

Parents should find out whether they're eligible for Child Tax Credits, or find out more about Working Tax Credits.


Workers spend £410 a year on average on lunch, or about £34 a month.

Money-saving tips: Obviously, bringing food from home can save you money. Leftovers are cheap (if you have any!). Non-brand crisps, bread, cheese, etc. can make a very reasonably priced packed lunch. Add fruit and vegetables, which are often cheaper at value supermarkets or local grocers' shops.

Cooking your own food can work out cheaper than either ready meals or meals out (depending on what you cook).

Other expenses

Other expenses were: £142 on work calls, £27 on computer equipment, £18 on stationery, £153 on 'personal grooming', £83 on the work wardrobe and £77 on work-mates and clients.

People who fill out self-assessment tax returns (the self-employed and people who run their own business, for example), can claim tax back on work-related expenses like these.