But we know, like many of you, that this isn’t the full picture. There are thousands of companies across the country who are using R&D tax relief to fund genuine innovation and exciting research. There are likewise many R&D advisors who are supporting these companies, responsibly, to claim the relief they’re entitled to.

Here at The R&D Community, we’ve been talking to our members about all these recent articles and events. Like us, they’re not happy to see the incomplete picture of R&D tax relief that’s being painted in public opinion.

While we wait for HMRC to do something conclusive, we’ve got a collective responsibility to educate clients and accountants who don’t do this.
“The most damaging thing is if people think that claiming itself is bad, because of the bad publicity.

– Kevin Johnson, Innovation Cashflow Services

So they asked us – we want to help; what can we do about it?

There are two things which we believe will help

  1. sharing positive examples
  2. promoting the efforts of responsible advisors.

We’ll talk about the first of these today and follow up next month with some more thoughts on the latter.

Sharing positive examples of R&D projects

The most memorable parts of the negative coverage have been the bad examples. Who hasn’t heard about the claims for the blueberry croissants and the care home menus described in the press?

So, our strongest opportunity to counter these stories is to start gathering a bank of alternative examples. We want to gather stories of exciting research projects that have tangible benefits that the general public might see in their own lives. Things like Covid vaccine research, or new materials for prosthetic limbs, or new ways of producing soy and dairy-free baby milk. Things which are unarguably innovative, obviously scientific, and are likely to help a large number of people.

Our experience has been, however, that no one wants to be the first. People are understandably hesitant to stick their head above the parapet and say “here’s my example” for fear that the validity of their client’s claim will be pulled apart publicly by their competitors.

We have two things in mind that we hope will make this easier

  • Create a collection of stories from a variety of advisors and publish them all together, so no one is ‘first.’ That means nobody feels isolated.
  • Focus on the big picture innovation from the R&D work, not complex technical details. We know that these details are commercially sensitive to the advisor and the client. They’re also often not that interesting to people who aren’t subject matter experts.

There are other barriers too.

Sometimes advisers feel like their own clients’ projects aren’t that exciting outside their industry niche. If you have projects like these, our marketing team can help to explore if or how those niche projects fit in to broader industry trends and frame the story within that big picture view. Even if you’re not sure, it’s worth chatting to us to find out!

Others are concerned about client confidentiality and protecting their clients from being poached by other advisers. We plan to co-write these stories in collaboration with advisers and clients, so that nothing is published which shouldn’t be. Where necessary, we can keep companies anonymous.

Got questions or something to share?

If you’re interested in participating, please get in touch with us directly.

We won’t write or publish anything about you without your full consent, and there’s no obligation to continue if you decide at any point you don’t want to.