Autumn Statement Changes to R&D tax reliefs - how do they affect SMEs and Large Companies?

Posted on 6th December 2022 by Streets What's trending?

Image to represent Autumn Statement Changes to R&D tax reliefs - how do they affect SMEs and Large Companies?

By Luke Prout, Tax Partner

The Autumn Statement included a number of changes to Research and Development Tax Credits and in particular a significant scaling down, for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs), of the generous reliefs available for undertaking qualifying Research and Development (R&D).

Whilst R&D by larger companies has been significantly enhanced by the tax credits, the schemes application by SMEs has deemed to be less than effective or satisfactory, with, in many cases it being misused even abused by those it seeks to support. As a result the Chancellor has reduced the level of relief available to SMEs for undertaking R&D.

The scaling down of the reliefs was perhaps to be expected based on the projection that without reform the cost of providing the relief could double to almost £9bn by 2027 and that such a financial commitment could perhaps not be supported or justified at a time when the Chancellors is seeking to address a £55bn black hole.  It is also the case that as earlier this year, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promised reforms when he was Chancellor, saying that in spite of spending “huge and rapidly growing sums” on the scheme it was not doing enough to boost growth. In part this may have a large impact for smaller businesses, to allow them to receive cash funding for undertaking R&D.

In contrast the separate R&D tax relief scheme for large companies was actually enhanced in the Autumn statement to provide larger companies increased benefits. Perhaps this is the starting point for the two schemes to eventually be merged into a combined singular scheme, which means we probably have not seen the end of these changes and there may well be amendments in next year’s Budget and/or Autumn Statement.

Summary of changes

SME Scheme

From April 2023, businesses classed as an SME will no longer receive an uplift of 130% for every £1 spent. Instead this will reduce to 86% and for loss making companies that can sell (surrender) their losses to HMRC, the repayable credit will be reduced from 14.5% to 10%.

However, bear in mind, that the Corporation tax rate from April 2023 changes from 19% to 25%, so it would be expected that the repayable tax credit would be reduced based on previous changes in the rate of Corporation tax (albeit it has never been consistent).

For profit making SMEs this is a reduction of 11% and for loss making SMEs this is a reduction of around 15%.

Large Scheme

This is aimed at large companies, groups and certain SMEs that receive grants or are subcontracted to carry out R&D. The calculation is slightly different, and in general, there is a 4-5% increase in the benefit for large companies, and one would expect this to be increased further next year to eventually align the two schemes.

What should businesses be considering now?

If you are an SME facing a reduction in the level of R&D tax relief you will be able to receive post 6th April you may want to consider making a claim before March 31st 2023. 

If you are classed as a large company and undertaking qualifying R&D you may want to defer submitting a claim until the start of the new financial year in April 2023 so ensuring you optimise the value of the relief received.

If you want advice and guidance about either your eligibility for making a claim and/or assistance in preparing and submitting a claim, we strongly advise you to contact a tax specialist who is experienced in R&D reliefs such as a Corporate Tax Partner at a firm like Streets Chartered Accountants.

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