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Jane Hodgson

Grahame Robb Associates Ltd

Management Development Trainer

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Meal expenses for overnight stays


I manage a training budget for a manufacturing site and part of the cost is accommodation, travel and meals for people who attend training where an overnight stay is required. Because of people abusing this, I am now having to set a cap on meals and I wondered what the averages where. I'm going to suggest: Breakfast £8, Lunch (if not included in the training, which it usually is) £12 and evening meal of £15 including drinks. This will no doubt cause a stir but I can't forego essential training just to pay for those that insist on fillet steak and wine Does you company have a policy on this and if so, what are the limits set?

10 Responses

  1. Overnight expenses

    Hi Jane

    I am an associate trainer for various companies and usually my contract sets a limit per day on expenses for subsistence. So, usually breakfast is included in the hotel costs which are covered, and then I can spend up to, say, a total of £21 per day for lunch and dinner. That is usually sufficient to cover a sandwich, packet of crisps and a piece of fruit for lunch (< £5) and a decent dinner. As an aside, I can only claim for soft drinks, no alcohol. Personally, I would think your £12 for lunch is on the high side, if people are also going to put in expenses for dinner. Perhaps a total daily limit might work?

    Hope that helps.

    With best wishes

    Jenny James


  2. Subsistence Budgets
    Hi Jane,

    I am an internal Trainer who has to travel all over the UK to train our employees. We’ve long had a fixed budget of £5 plus VAT for breakfast, no budget for lunch unless provided at the venue and £15 plus VAT for dinner. Although the lack of lunch provision was initially a frustration, if I was one of the colleagues I train I would have to provide that for myself in any case.

    Hope this helps,

  3. Survey
    I have since created this very simple survey and would be most grateful if people couyld complete it. It really does only take a minute or two as there’s only 6 questions.

    Many thanks.


  4. Meal Expenses

    Hi Jane

    This can vary enormously. Even 9 years ago when I was a trainer in a very large financial institution, the allowance for dinner was £20 covering food and drink. Having then moved to a construction company I found the limits were a little bit lower but £20 was not considered unreasonable. 

    I would suggest that it very much depends on the type of accommodation your policies state or you recommend employees should stay at. If they are being asked to stay in a budget hotel then the amounts you suggest are manageable and as others have suggested, lunch is probably generous. If they are staying at some mainstream hotel chains then £8 would not buy breakfast and £15 would be a challenge for dinner, if it was not included in the rate.

    It may be worth looking at the prices at the type of hotel you suggest employees stay at and local sandwich shop then check your prices before publishing them.

    You may even wish to consider putting in place a corporate deal with a hotel chain that suits your needs. I know some where you authorise the limit and if the delegate goes over, they pay the difference.

    I hope this helps.


  5. Standard of Hotels
    Thanks. The problem I have is that we are an SBU within a much larger company. But I am expected to manage the training budget on this site. So, whilst our sales and marketing people (on another site) might justify expensive hotels and meals, I want to keep a check on spending here so I can use the moeny where it’ll have most impact. I generally look to put people up in budget hotels, such as Premier Inn or Holiday Inn Express. As such, I think the prices I’ve given are in keeping with the hotels.

  6. Meal expenses

    Hi Jane

    I often stay in Holiday Inn Expresses when I am on my own expenses, and they include a pretty good continental breakfast in their prices, so might be worth revisiting the allowances with that in mind.

    All the best

    Jenny James



  7. Subsistence Rates

    We follow Government rates, as follows:

    Breakfast (if not included in hotel rate) – £5

    Lunch – £8.50

    Dinner – £17.50 (can only include one alcoholic drink)

    Staff are also allowed to claim £5 to cover incidental expenses per 24 hours.

  8. Meal Budget

    If your company already has an account with Premier Inn, as you suggest, all you have to do is ring their corporate office and let them know what your limits are for each meal.  They will automatically disseminate that information to their hotels each time you make a booking with them.  Anything over that limit is then charged to the employee personally.  It’s a good way to check rampant expenditure.

    Shelley Dudley

    Omni Training & Motivation

  9. Communication strategy


    Your intentions are honourable. To deflect any bad feeling between colleagues in different SBUs you may want to communicate your reasons for capping Travel and Living expenses (to ensure money is spent on provision of training)



  10. Thanks for posting!That is a

    Thanks for posting!That is a good way in order for us to be aware in checking in into a private hotel.What is the best thing to do is talk to the manager or to the superior one.You can ring their corporate office and let them know what your limits are for each meal. See more at: pay your expenses

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Jane Hodgson

Management Development Trainer

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