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The ever-changing R&D tax relief landscape: complex but worth it

If you’re claiming R&D tax relief, here are the recent changes you need to be aware of.  (And if you’re not, you might be carrying out eligible projects without realising it.)


R&D tax relief plays a vital role in encouraging and promoting investment in innovative activities, and is available to companies across multiple sectors – from manufacturing and green tech, to digital and creative industries, and healthcare.

If you’re already claiming, read on for a summary of the important new changes to the scheme that will affect your SME.

If you’re not, then click on this link to see what you’re missing out on: Why is R&D tax relief important?

R&D tax relief: What has changed?

Following a government review, new measures have been introduced that affect accounting periods beginning on or after 1 April 2023.

Digital only


Claims for R&D relief now need to be submitted digitally via a new web portal. This will enable more efficient monitoring and evaluation of claims, reduce fraudulent claims, and ensure companies that genuinely meet the eligibility are the ones that benefit. But it does potentially add another layer of admin.

More details required


From 1 August 2023, all claims must be accompanied by an additional information form, which gathers precise details about the nature of the research and development activities, project timelines and a breakdown of expenditure, to illustrate how claimed costs align with specific R&D activities.

Companies are expected to demonstrate the innovative and experimental nature of their work, as well as detail the challenges and uncertainties faced during the research and development process. Failing to submit the additional information means your claim won’t be processed.

Designated senior officer


Each claim must now identify and name a designated senior officer from the claimant company, who is responsible for taking ownership of the R&D claim, providing accurate information and ensuring compliance with the requirements.

R&D agent details


Also new: the business must provide the full details of the R&D agent who advised the company on compiling the claim. This includes information about the agent's qualifications and expertise in handling R&D relief claims. By disclosing this information, the tax authorities can assess the credibility of the agent and the reliability of the advice provided to the claimant.

Claim notification


Another important change: companies are required to notify HMRC in advance, through a digital service, if they plan to make an R&D claim. This notification needs to be done within six months of the end of the accounting period to which the claim relates. Failing to submit the required pre-notification will result in the claim not being accepted.

If a company has consistently made R&D claims in the preceding three years, however, claim notification may not be necessary.

Datasets and cloud computing


Good news: the scope of qualifying expenditures for R&D tax relief has been expanded to include the costs of datasets and cloud computing.

This extension acknowledges the significant role of data and computing resources in driving innovation, and encourages businesses to adopt and leverage these technologies in their R&D activities.

Increased tax credit rate


And finally, loss-making R&D-intensive firms can receive a higher cash payment of 14.5%, instead of the standard 10% – provided their qualifying R&D spend is at least 40% of their total expenditure during the same financial period.

This measure will be part of the Finance Bill process and, once legislated, will apply from 1 April 2023. This means that companies can start benefiting from the updated rates and provisions for their qualifying R&D expenditures incurred on or after that date.



Why is R&D tax relief important?

If most of this seems like extra hassle you can well do without, check out our R&D Tax Relief Checklist at the foot of this page and contact our innovation team who can help unravel the complexities.

And it’s perhaps also worth a reminder about the benefits the scheme can bring.

Cost reduction


R&D activities often involve substantial costs, including expenses related to staffing, equipment and materials, plus overheads. R&D tax relief provides a mechanism to reduce these costs by offering tax incentives, such as deductions or credits, which effectively lower a company's tax liability. This cost reduction helps alleviate the financial burden of conducting R&D and encourages companies to allocate resources towards innovation.

Increased funding for R&D


By reducing the costs of R&D, tax reliefs make it more financially feasible for SMEs to invest in research and development. These incentives free up funds that can be reinvested into R&D activities, allowing companies to allocate resources for experimentation, technological advancements, and product or process improvements.

Stimulating innovation


With your costs reduced, you can feel empowered to challenge the status quo, explore new ideas, and develop a culture of innovation within your business. SMEs sometimes carry out R&D projects, such as improving existing processes, without realising they’re eligible for tax relief. It’s important to underline that these incentives aren’t only applicable to larger companies. 

Competitive advantage


Businesses that actively engage in R&D and leverage tax reliefs gain a competitive edge in the marketplace. By investing in research and development, SMEs can develop innovative products, improve operational efficiency, enhance customer experiences and stay ahead of their competitors. 

R&D tax relief checklist

  • Are you an SME with less than 500 staff and turnover under £100m?
  • Are you a registered UK limited company?
  • Do you pay Corporation Tax in the UK?
  • Are you spending money in order to make technological or scientific advances?
  • Are you trying to overcome uncertainty and are incurring costs in the process?

If you answered yes to all of the above, our innovation specialists are here to help and can even introduce you to locally based tax experts from our network of carefully selected partners. 

Contact the Innovation team today

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Steph Stafford

Steph Stafford, Senior Innovation Advisor - Innovation Specialist

Steph has over 25 years business development, coaching and management experience across all industry sectors, helping both start-up and established high-performing businesses with the potential for growth achieve their ambitions. Steph has provided specialist innovation support to SMEs across the North-West on numerous private/public funded growth programmes.

Her role as Innovation Advisor for GC Business Growth Hub is to support Greater Manchester based businesses to innovate and collaborate with local and National expertise.

Working with clients on a range of innovation-led projects, including: proof of market/concept through to commercialising new products and services; developing an innovative culture and building the team/future team, intellectual property, improving and streamlining systems and processes to provide strong foundations for growth, new business generation techniques and innovative routes to market, coaching and mentoring senior management teams and business leaders


Selected media coverage of Steph Stafford:

Retired bus driver creates low-cost sanitiser for care sector - About Manchester