23 November 2017

No rabbits out of the hat from the Chancellor…

In the first of the new autumn Budget cycles, Chancellor Phillip Hammond laid out a “steady as she goes” Budget. There were some big announcements for those looking to get onto the housing ladder as well as much needed changes to the universal credit scheme.

There were also some welcome changes to R&D, Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs). There are, however, a number of measures that were announced that are subject to debate and change with over 20 consultations and several changes scheduled for release in 2018.

Other areas we see as a welcome boost from the Chancellor are:

  • Increase in R&D relief – From January 1, the rate of R&D expenditure credit will increase from 11% to 12%, this will mostly affect larger companies. The government is also planning on introducing an advance clearing system for R&D claims.
  • VAT threshold to remain at £85,000 for the next two years. This will be welcome news to small businesses. However, those close to the threshold should monitor sales closely to ensure they register for VAT and apply on time so no penalties are incurred.
  • £500m for 5G mobile networks, fibre broadband and investment in AI. However, this is not necessarily new funding and is part of the £740m investment which was announced in the Spring 2017 Budget but nevertheless shows that the UK is investing in the future of technology.
  • £540m to support the growth of electric cars, including installing more charging points. This will be welcome news to our client ZapGo, who was recently in the news with the launch of their supercapacitor battery which is set to revolutionise not only the automotive industry but how appliances are charged in the home.
  • Changes to the sale of diesel cars. Cars that do not meet latest emission standards will face a one-off tax increase in April. We know that manufacturers are investing heavily in the latest low emission technology and one of our very own clients, Green Lizard, has developed and launched an innovative new process which uses DMC to eliminate 80 to 90% of exhaust particles from conventional diesel engines. Read more about their technology here.

With the Brexit process now eight months in, we weren’t expecting too many rabbits out of the hat and with the OBR downgrading 2017 UK growth to 1.5% from the original prediction of 2%, there was not much wriggle room for big announcements.

The Budget aside, we are seeing some UK firms failing to take basic steps to protect and exploit their own intellectual property.  In our recent survey in conjunction with the Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA) we estimate the total amount lost thanks to UK manufacturing industry’s basic IP failures to be in the “millions”.

We as a firm urge the UK government to increase awareness that IP is an essential element to any business and if not protected or exploited effectively can be disastrous for a growing, entrepreneurial company. Basic, effective IP protection can be achieved easily and cheaply. For a company to fail to do so represents a loss of immediate value and puts future opportunities at risk. Read our survey here.