Small Business Travel Claims

The fund is open only to small businesses (meaning those employer organisations that in total have under 50 employees across their site(s)) as the Institute recognises that small business involvement in developing apprenticeship is crucial, yet is likely to have a greater financial impact. Therefore, trailblazer members who represent a small business may claim costs for travel where:

  • attendance at a trailblazer related meeting is critical
  • the meeting will cover discussion of apprenticeship standards, end-point assessment plans, supplying provider/assessor quotes or implementation
  • options for conducting the meeting remotely have been fully explored and reasonably ruled out

As a guide, claims will be paid for a maximum of two attendees per employer at each critical trailblazer meeting.

As the fund is small, and to ensure robust management of public money, we will keep eligibility under review.

If having read the following guidance, you still have questions, then please contact

General Guidance

We expect you to take appropriate and justifiable spending decisions, weighing up the balance between value for money and trailblazer benefit. You should not benefit or be out of pocket as a result of undertaking business travel as part of a trailblazer.

All travel and subsistence claims should normally be made within 28 days of travel and be based on receipted costs incurred as a result of travel between your home or office and an eligible meeting. We expect all expenditure to be supported by itemised receipts. Failure to either apply within a maximum limit of 90 days of travel or failure to provide receipts may result in your expenses application being declined.

Please note that you should only claim for costs incurred by yourself and that you should not claim on behalf of other trailblazers or organisations.

If you are unsure about whether an expense is eligible, in the first instance, you should check with your relationship manager (RM), normally before the expenditure is incurred. We reserve the right to refuse unreasonable claims for expenses that fall outside the entitlements criteria.

Making a claim for expenses

From 27 August 2019, all expenses claims must be made electronically. The Institute uses a payment process run by Dept. for Education (DfE). This means that you must first register your bank details with DfE, so they recognise you as someone they are authorised to pay. This is normally a one-off process. Secondly, you will need to make each individual expense claim via the “ExpenseIn” system. Both of these processes are explained as follows:

Registering your bank details with DfE

The online registration process need only be completed once, normally before making your first ever claim. However, the registration process would need to be repeated if the information the Institute holds on you ceases to be accurate. It is your responsibility to advise the Institute of any changes to such information to avoid delays in process expense claims. You should follow visit DfE website to submit your bank details and register.

You will be asked what your organisation type is – please select “non-employee expense claimant”

You will have to provide a named contact at DfE – please use

Please note that if you need additional help completing your registration then you should liaise with DfE rather than the Institute. You can email DfE via

Upon receipt of your registration, DfE will contact the Institute for confirmation that we recognise your application.  

The registration process usually takes 15 working days at a minimum to be completed.

Once the registration process is complete, DfE will confirm, via an email to you, that they have added your details to the payment system. DfE will also inform you of your “vendor number” in case you ever need to make enquiries or amendments. We are unable to make travel claim payments until this process is completed and your bank details are on record.

Making a claim using the Expensein system

Following your registration by DfE, the Institute Finance Team will email you with an invitation to sign up to ExpenseIn. Guidance on how to use ExpenseIn to submit claims can be found on ExpenseIn's website.

You must use ExpenseIn for every expenses claim you want to make. It is up to you to decide whether to use the ExpenseIn website or relevant App:

How expenses claims are processed

  • we will verify with your relationship manager that you attended a meeting (of the kind described in this guidance). This can take up to 1 week generally
  • we will check what can be awarded, based on the receipts you provided and in line with this guidance
  • your authorised expenses will be paid by DfE directly into your bank account

Travel claim entitlements

Rail travel

When travelling by rail, you should always travel using the most cost-effective option, preferably pre-booking tickets to travel on specific (timed) trains (as these are often the cheapest). You can book an anytime ticket if you have no way of knowing what time your trailblazer meeting will finish, or when this is the cheapest ticket option available.

If there are special reasons why you might need to travel first class then please contact us in advance to discuss, as first-class is generally not payable.

If you are thinking of using either Oyster or contactless payments or making use of a railcard, then again please contact us to discuss this.

Taxi travel

Attendance at trailblazer meetings should normally be made by public transport. Taxi travel is often expensive, so may only be used under certain circumstances. Always remember to obtain, scan and retain a receipt for your claim. Acceptable reasons for using a taxi include:

  • where no suitable public transport is available, especially when travelling early in the morning or late at night before public transport starts or is running regularly
  • when you have a temporary or permanent disability
  • when you have heavy luggage to carry
  • when you are in an unfamiliar town and uncertain of public transport
  • when you may be concerned for your physical safety
  • when a taxi is shared, and the combined cost of public transport is


We recognise there may be occasions where using a hotel to attend a trailblazer meeting is essential. This may be for instance when the meeting is too far from your home to reasonably travel there and back on the same day. However, we anticipate such occasions will be few and far between and we will expect you to have explored all other options first. To provide value for money, there are limits on the amounts we will pay for hotels, dependent on regional variance (see below). In all normal circumstances please seek the advice of your RM before booking a hotel. We reserve the right to decline applications for hotel costs where advice was not given.

Hire cars and use of private vehicles

At all times the following order of priority should be adhered to when travelling to and from trailblazer meetings.  

  • public transport
  • hire car
  • private vehicle (under 120 miles in a day)

The Institute is committed to promoting more sustainable travel option and you are encouraged to opt for public rather than private transport unless there is a strong case for the latter. You should consider whether car travel is the most appropriate means of transport, bearing in mind costs, efficiency and effectiveness. 

Before booking a hire car, please consider the total cost of the hire car booking plus the cost of hire car fuel, against the mileage rates below for using your own vehicle.  

Other costs

You can claim meals or refreshments bought for consumption on the outward/return journeys or at the trailblazer meeting (if not provided) up to the maximum limits allowed, or overnight if you have to use a hotel. Please note you may not claim for alcoholic drinks.

Rates and claim limits



Up to 10,000 miles per year

£0.45 per mile

More than 10,000 miles

£0.25 per mile

Accommodation in London

£110.00 per day

Accommodation elsewhere in the UK

£75.00 per day

Subsistence where absent from home/office for more than 5 hours and no food is provided

One meal at £4.50

Subsistence where absent for more than 10 hours and no food provided

Two meals at a combined cost of £9.30

Subsistence where absent for more than 12 hours and no food provided

Three meals at a combined cost of £13.80

Breakfast if not included in overnight accommodation or where your journey starts before 6 am and is part of an overnight stay

One meal at £4.50


Last updated 12 Jan 2023