Specialist R&D Tax & Grant Funding Advisors

R&D tax relief cut for SMEs in Chancellor’s Autumn Statement

R&D tax relief is undergoing some notable reforms, particularly for SMEs, following Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's Autumn Statement.

Barrie Dowsett

Chief Executive Officer

17/11/2022

5 minute read


R&D tax relief has come under scrutiny recently following a concerning rise in abuse, particularly under the SME scheme. Consequently, new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has looked to reduce the relief available to SMEs in a move that’s set to tighten R&D tax claims going forward.

Hunt’s 17th November Autumn Statement recognised the unprecedented challenges UK businesses face against a backdrop of spending cuts and tax hikes. Earlier this year predecessor Rishi Sunak outlined his plan for R&D tax credit reforms. At the time, Sunak’s aim was to expand and improve the relief in order to bring UK investment in growth more in line with EU countries like France and Germany. As part of this, R&D tax relief would be expanded so that eligible R&D expenditure included data and cloud computing expenses. However, the scheme was also refocussed so that R&D spending that took place in the UK (rather than abroad) was prioritised.

Autumn Statement 2022: What’s been announced?

Jeremy Hunt has now revealed that the R&D SME scheme enhanced deduction rate will be cut to 86% from the current 130%, and the payable tax credit rate cut to 10% from 14.5%. However, the rate of the separate R&D expenditure credit - also known as RDEC - will increase significantly, from 13% to 20%.

The Corporation Tax savings as a percentage of expenditure will therefore be reduced as follows (effective on expenditure incurred on or after 1st April 2023):

  • Profit-making SMEs = 21.5% (currently 24.7%)
  • Loss-making SMEs = 8.6% (currently 18.85%). Figures are based on the additional enhanced relief only.

The Chancellor’s latest move is expected to be met with criticism from business groups. Last month, the Federation of Small Businesses wrote to the Chancellor advising him against targeting a scheme that “has been working, especially one of such importance for growth”. It added that R&D Tax Credits had been “a huge part of [the SME] success story”, saying that “the attempt to pull the rug out from small business innovation seemed to us a misreading of scant data points”.

Lisa Waller, Director of Corporate Tax Incentives UK & IE, said: “Today’s unwelcome but not unexpected reduction in rates is a big blow for SMEs. Smaller, innovative but loss-making companies will be hit the hardest while larger companies reap the rewards. It is a very unsettling time with more reforms on the way.”

A full review of support for SME R&D investment is expected before the next Budget. We will of course keep our website updated.


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