BIM37670 - Wholly & exclusively: duality of, or non-trade, purpose: non travel topics: accommodation and subsistence: 'itinerant' trades
What to do in practice
The cost of meals taken away from the place of business is not in general an expense incurred wholly and exclusively for business purposes, since everyone must eat in order to live. This follows from Caillebotte v Quinn  50TC222 (see BIM37660) and Watkis v Ashford, Sparkes and Harward  58TC468 (see BIM37925). Where such costs are disallowable they cannot be apportioned to allow extra costs incurred from the necessity of eating and drinking away from home or the place of business.
Itinerant trade journeys outside the normal pattern
But extra costs may be incurred wholly for business purposes where a business is by its nature itinerant (for example in the case of commercial travellers), or where occasional business journeys outside the normal pattern are made. You may allow a deduction for reasonable expenses incurred in these circumstances.
Overnight accommodation and subsistence
Where a business trip necessitates one or more nights away from home, the hotel accommodation and reasonable costs of overnight subsistence are deductible. See Edwards v Warmsley Henshall and Co  44TC431 (see BIM37615) and Watkis v Ashford, Sparkes and Harward  58TC468 (see BIM37925).
This does not extend to overnight accommodation and subsistence at the base of business operations, even if there is a contractual requirement for the trader to reside in a particular place - see Mason v Tyson  53TC333 (see BIM37928), Prior v Saunders  66TC210 (see BIM37665) Mclaren v Mumford  69TC173 (see BIM37930) and BIM66210.
The reasonable costs of meals taken in conjunction with overnight accommodation are allowable, whether or not paid on the same bill.
Long distance lorry drivers subsistence
The same treatment may be extended to self-employed long distance lorry drivers who spend the night in their cabs rather than take overnight accommodation. The text of TB8K, published in August 1993, is as follows:
Lorry drivers: trade deductions: meals: cost of
“In considering the application of ICTA88/S74 (a) to the cost of meals taken away from the place of business, the courts have held that no deduction is due because it cannot be said that the expense was incurred wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the trade since everyone must eat in order to live - see Caillebotte v Quinn 50TC222 (see BIM37660).
However we have long accepted reasonable claims for the cost of evening meals and breakfast taken in conjunction with overnight accommodation if the cost of the accommodation would otherwise be allowable as an expense in carrying on the trade or profession. This practice has received the approval of the courts, most recently in the case of Watkis v Ashford Sparkes & Harward 58TC468 (see BIM37925).
Long distance self-employed lorry drivers have therefore been able to claim a deduction for the reasonable cost of meals taken in conjunction with overnight accommodation.
We have been asked whether this treatment can be extended to such drivers who spend the night in their cabs rather than take overnight accommodation. We have confirmed that it can.
It should be emphasised that it is only ‘reasonable' expenses which may be allowed and the expenses claimed must be supported by adequate contemporaneous records.”