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Articles from the Silver Shemmings Ash Team on contractual matters, recent case law changes and items of interest in the construction and property world

Guest Article – Research & Development Incentives

December 16, 2019 | Silver Shemmings

Research and Development (“R&D”) sounds really complex for most businesses and as a result can often be overlooked. R&D Incentives do not only relate to the ground-breaking developments that are performed by scientists and chemists – they are also available for many businesses that are developing new products or manufacturing processes or appreciably improving existing ones.  It’s there to reward companies for doing what they do best – running their business!

Almost every business is probably doing some sort of activity that meets the criteria for claiming the incentives. But sadly a lot of these businesses are missing out, either in full or in part, by not including everything they can. And with up to 33.35% cashback available, that’s criminal!

“We’re just doing our day job, we couldn’t possibly qualify”

Before practising as an R&D advisor, I trained as an Engineer and worked in industry as a Senior Scientist – I could never have imagined that such a large majority of what I did on a day to day basis would have qualified – surely R&D incentives were for companies that undertook blue-sky research?  However, R&D incentives can be applied to any business that designs or makes something… anything! This even includes buildings and infrastructure (or components of buildings), as well as more intangible things like software.

I speak to so many businesses in the construction sector (throughout the sector from building developers and technology specialists through to material manufacturers  and suppliers) that believe they do not qualify for relief as they feel they are simply “doing their day job”. The construction industry is particularly humble as they see what they do as the same thing but on a different site BUT it remains the only sector to ever have its own case studies written and covering letters sent out by HMRC questioning why companies within it aren’t claiming already!

Do you design and develop bespoke buildings and structures for specific industrial use and/or design of structures with specific engineering considerations?  Do you conduct geotechnical, environmental and ecological studies to design and develop improved solutions for reclamation or remediation of land or wetlands?  Develop technical solutions to achieve architectural intent, whilst meeting stringent building regulation requirements (or even meet new regulations)? Or even, undertake retrospective alteration of existing building structures to change internal/external appearance?

If the answer to any of these (or even something similar) is a yes, then the chances are you are undertaking R&D activities that will qualify for the regime.

Choosing the right specialist to help you

I have often heard “advisors have come and talked to us about R&D, claiming to be ‘experts’ but this is the first time we’ve ‘got it’ and can see why we might have something to claim.”  This is why it is so important to choose the right advisor, with the right experience.  Especially in the construction sector, as articulating what “R&D” means can be particularly challenging.

There are four things that make the Cooper Parry team different, and why our R&D Incentives team is on a roll. These are the “golden 4” in R&D circles:

  • Technical background – in our R&D team we have 4 PhDs and specific expertise in materials science and construction, as well as pharmacology, software and technology, mechanical and marine engineering, chemistry, the list goes on.. Our team is full of people who know the industries we work in and know what is needed to find it.
  • Tax qualified – of course, as well as having the industry know-how, Chartered Tax qualified and accountants who are part of an award-winning tax team. The Best Practice in the UK.
  • Experience – I’ve been working in R&D incentives for over 13 years, with the Head of our Team, Chris Knott, having over 19 years’ experience (since the scheme started in 2000). We know how it works and the context behind each change – as does the whole team.
  • Policy Setters – Chris is also part of HMRC’s R&D Consultative Committee, knows the changes coming up and has input into them. Chris is also one of only 5 to be part of the Chartered Institute of Tax Professional Standards Working Group, looking at raising standards in the R&D claims industry. Put simply, we are true experts in this area of tax.

Have a question about R&D incentives?

I will be presenting and part of the “Building a Better Business: Negotiations – Facing your Clients & Suppliers” held by Silver Shemmings Ash in conjunction with BITA on 8 January 2020 being held at Leonardo Royal London City Hotel, 8 – 14 Coopers Row, London  EC3N 2BQ.  Come and talk to me there about how the R&D regime can be applicable to your business or contact me on ecea@cooperparry or 07786 438 296.

Dr Ece Akser Bio:
Dr Ece Akser is a Director in the R&D Incentives team at Cooper Parry, having joined with over 13 years of experience as an R&D practioner preparing and agreeing R&D claims in the Big 4.  Before working as an R&D advisor, Ece worked as a Senior Scientist at Procter & Gamble for over 5 years, leading technical teams to develop and deliver new product launch from concept to on-shelf, through the total supply chain.  Ece has extensive knowledge of the R&D regime in the UK with an in depth understanding of the guidance and legislation on the definition of R&D for tax purposes and how this can be applied across a wide range of industries, especially the construction industry.


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