Did sustainability take a back seat to survival in 2020?


Is sustainability still on your list of business priorities?

As we have started the new year with encouraging news about vaccines and hopefully a more positive outlook on the year ahead than perhaps we might have had six months ago, when many business owners thoughts were more focused on survival, it’s important to refocus on those sustainability goals that many businesses have.

We’ve been trying to work out how to make our tax consultancy more “Sustainable”, but its difficult, we work from a serviced office so have little impact on the choices of services. We come to work and travelled to our clients through a mixture of train and car, we could use cars less, but they are convenient but haven’t done so since lockdown. Since the onset of the first lockdown we have made use of services like Zoom and MS Teams to keep interacting with our customers.

So perhaps in a way, we have stumbled into being slightly more sustainable, will we maintain this as we come out of the other side of Covid? Who knows? It’s difficult not being on a client’s premises, certainly when it comes to the engineering and manufacturing sectors that we support with Research and Development Tax Credit claims, being on site gives you a feel for what’s going on, especially if you have a curious nature which we tend to have, because of what we do. When we ask questions based on what we see, hear and feel, generally speaking the potential to claim increases.

Sustainability doesn’t have to be expensive, it doesn’t have to be huge grand gestures, it will be the sum of all of the little changes that we make in both our personal lives and in business that will be greater than the whole.

That being said, if in business you are looking for that one big project, that world beating new piece of technology, or an idea to revolutionise the agricultural industry or the renewables industry, or to reduce waste, then it might be expensive, it might be time consuming, but there are plenty of ways that you can find support from government.

Business funding opportunities

There are a number of competitive grant schemes that have these sustainable elements at the core, you only have to check out UK Research and Innovation  (www.ukri.org) where there are over 100 opportunities for business funding. Granted not all of them are focused on sustainability but there will be a significant number, particularly with the advent of the government’s Industrial Strategy and its continuing signals that in the new post-Brexit world, we won’t be left behind when it comes to research and innovation.

Then there’s research and development tax relief. If you are lucky enough to have successfully received a grant, you may be somewhat surprised to hear that you could also benefit from tax relief for spending the money that you have received from the grant. You can claim under the RDEC scheme, whether you are a large company or an SME for the grant-funded projects, which for money spent since 1 April 2020 will generate either a tax rebate of up to 10.53% of the eligible costs or in the event you are loss-making a cash injection of the same 10.53%, so in a way you are having your cake and eating it.

If you are a small company and you either didn’t apply for a grant or weren’t successful in your application, but have decided to go it alone regardless then you could in fact be in line for an even greater cash injection for a loss making company of up to 33.35% of your eligible spend, if you are profitable it will reduce your tax liability by up to 24.7% of the eligible spend.

The last way the government can help is through Patent Box. If your new product is so ground breaking that you are looking to Patent it and are successful in being granted a patent, you could reduce your tax bill further, as a result of the profits being generated on the sale of the items being taxed at a reduced rate of 10%.

How Cooden can help

As we move forward in 2021, our goal is to be able to help you with all of these aspects of funding for innovation, as we look to grow our business by incorporating a business grants element to our existing family of services, which already focus on R&D and Patent Box.

In the meantime, one of the things that we have been doing is offering a reduction in our fees for companies that are developing green technology, sustainable agriculture and renewables. We’ve worked with a few companies this year and are looking to find and support more businesses that are working in these high value areas that will help all of us to be a little more sustainable in our lives. If you would like to have a chat to determine whether you have an eligible project, sustainable or not then you can book a 15 minute call with our director, Simon Bulteel.

Ultimately it feels like a lot of us accidentally became more sustainable as a result of Covid, but in spite of this, it will be great to put 2020 behind us and make the most of our new discoveries and get back to making good on our original sustainability goals as we grow into 2021.