Finance and furnaces

News editor

Help for companies wanting to recoup tax relief from their R&D spending is at hand, while attention turns to matters financial and thermal ahead of George Osborne’s upcoming Autumn Statement and the government’s new Energy Bill

A free workshop being held today aims to supply businesses that invest in R&D with the information they need to recoup tax relief.

Hosts Essex University say the session will cover business support, research and development tax relief and the new Patent Box regime, which will allow companies to pay a lower rate of Corporation Tax on profits from patented inventions and certain other innovations.

HMRC’s Jim Rogers will be on hand to explain who can elect for the Patent Box, which patents are eligible, and how and when to claim.

Earlier in the year Withers & Rogers wrote to inform us that they had carried out a survey of accounting professionals, the results of which highlighted that Patent Box rules are too complex and their implementation could mislead some businesses to expect more than they actually get. Click here to read more.

Another view was offered in April by Diarmuid MacDougall, partner, R&D and Patent Box, PriceWaterHouseCoopers, who suggested that ‘grant-like’ credit for R&D could offer more value to those companies who participate in the scheme. The full story can be found here.

Still with business and an announcement from EEF, which today published its Autumn Statement submission, urging the government to prioritise on growth ahead of the chancellor’s Autumn Statement in December.

EEF acknowledges the precarious state of the world economy but is urging our elected representatives ‘to take action to encourage increased investment and exports’.

They say business investment is still 15 per cent below its pre-recession peak but is critical to growth, the long-term health of the economy and meeting  the government’s £1tn exports target.

EEF’s makes seven recommendations include improvements to accessing finance and a re-allocation of the £5.3bn underspend by government departments in 2011-12 towards investment in infrastructure.

Those of you still working might be familiar with organizational changes that have seen bosses chanting the mantra ‘do more with less’.

From the shop floor, it can often feel like unreasonable demands are being made (especially at a time when pay, for many, is frozen) but management has to do its best to maintain competitiveness.

An event taking place in Birmingham and Warrington seeks to give businesses a fresh approach to employee relations, industrial relations, collective bargaining and reward strategies.

Employee Relations- a strategic approach will have input from EEF, the Olympic Delivery Authority, and Jaguar Land Rover and topics covered include the planning and preparation for changes without incurring disputes.

In a statement, Jeff Neild, EEF’s national head of Industrial and Employee Relations said, ‘Competitive pressure means it is vital to overcome employee resistance to new ways of working…It‘s not easy to win-over employees or trade unions when the economic squeeze is on. But with the right HR approach and understanding of employment law you can deliver a flexible, productive and high-performing workforce without the risk of litigation or dispute.’

Last week the government reached an agreement on its energy policy, thereby bringing forward £110bn of investment in energy infrastructure over the next eight years.

The introduction this week of the Energy Bill is expected to give investors further confidence and is likely to provide energy companies leverage to triple the renewable power levy on households, providing an extra £7.6bn for future low-carbon electricity infrastructure.

One possible headache for onshore windfarm developers could come in the form of so-called ‘separation zones’ around proposed sites.

A number of councils including Milton Keynes and Cherwell are reportedly set to use planning rules to create these zones, which would ban new turbines within up to 2km of homes.

Finally, Aberdeen this week hosts Unconventional Gas, an event designed to discuss the global potential of shale and tight gas and coal bed methane.

The organisers say the conference features experts from industry and governments from the UK, Australia, Middle East, Africa, China and Poland and will focus on tackling the challenges that need to be overcome to maximise the potential from unconventional gas. These include fiscal regimes, land pricing, technology and infrastructure.

Back in September the IMechE were of the opinion that shale could create thousands of jobs but isn’t a ‘silver bullet’ solution for the economy. More on that can be found here.

Given the often vociferous resistance to onshore wind, it’ll be interesting to see if shale can gain a foothold in Britain, seeing as how the process has been blamed for tremors in Blackpool and flammable gas entering the domestic water supply in parts of the US.