The UK, it may surprise you to hear, is facing what one government adviser called an ‘extraordinary’ shortage of bricklayers. It’s a skill and a profession that’s easy to overlook, but think about it for longer than a few seconds and the reality of a bricklayer shortage dawns on us.
The cause of the shortage is a variety of issues, not readily pinned down to one cause. But, according to David Longbottom, a director at Construction Automation, it doesn’t help that bricklaying is “bloody tough” work.
Studies have shown that bricklayers face increased risks of rheumatoid arthritis and back issues. These issues have hampered attempts to recruit more workers and the average age of bricklayers in the UK now stands at 53.
With the UK construction sector losing access to the foreign labour reserves that have long supplemented our workforce shortages, the solution could be a non-human one, David explains. Construction Automation’s Automated Brick Laying Robot (ABLR) is precisely as the name describes.
The robot is 1.5-metre x 1 metre in size and goes around a track. It’s also able to move up and down along a nine-metre tower. The machine works in a mesmerising fashion, accurately laying mortar and placing the bricks.
“The machine dramatically improves health and safety, completely removing the need for scaffolding,” David says. “It’s a game-changer for the industry, specifically house building.”
Risk in R&D tax relief
David had heard about R&D tax relief quite a while before finally claiming. While Construction Automation’s innovative product would seem ideally suited to the incentive, it was concern about risk that dissuaded him from claiming.
“I spoke to a quite a few advisers, and all of them made it sound too good to be true,” he says. “They downplayed the risks but I knew that if HMRC came looking for answers, I’d be on the hook.”
Ultimately, David chose to work with ForrestBrown. While we work diligently to mitigate the chances of an HMRC enquiry, ForrestBrown is always upfront and honest with our clients about risk.
R&D tax relief enquiry support
HMRC enquiry support is included in our service as standard. If the tax authority has any questions or concerns about a claim, ForrestBrown will handle the interaction for you until the enquiry is settled.
Speaking more generally, David’s risk aversion is well-grounded. As ForrestBrown highlighted in our recent research ‘Sleepwalking towards disaster’, HMRC has recently allocated an extra 100 inspectors to its R&D tax unit.
Mark Andrew, a former-HMRC inspector and ForrestBrown senior tax specialist, observes in the report, these extra officers will add significant capacity to HMRC’s compliance efforts. While enquiries should always be dealt with seriously and judiciously, they are not necessarily a red alert situation.
HMRC do spot-checks and compliance checks. Sometimes these checks are totally random. Their added compliance staff will allow them to do more of these checks. If your claim is in good order and your adviser supports you, HMRC’s questions can be answered swiftly.
Download your copy of ‘UK R&D tax relief: businesses sleepwalking towards disaster’ here.
“The way ForrestBrown has gone about it has been very professional,” David says. “I was ultimately concerned about liability. If there was an enquiry, it would rest with me. The support ForrestBrown offers have put me at ease in case HMRC have any questions.”
Many advisers do not offer HMRC enquiry support as standard. ForrestBrown does. Call us on 0207 926 9022 to discuss claiming R&D tax relief safely and effectively.
ForrestBrown thinks: minimise risks when claiming R&D tax relief
We spend a lot of energy promoting R&D tax relief and educating businesses – both claiming and non-claiming – about how to use the incentive effectively. As a business, we believe in the power and value of R&D tax relief.
But we also realise that responsibly promoting the relief means acknowledging the risks inherent to claiming any tax incentive. Spurious advisers who downplay risk or don’t include enquiry support in their client contracts are putting businesses at risk.
Luckily for Construction Automation, the gut instincts of directors led it away from these irresponsible advisers. We realise that many firms do, however, end up being caught out by false promises.
That’s why we also offer enquiry support services to non-clients as well. If you’re facing an HMRC enquiry and you’re unsure what to do next, ForrestBrown can help get the issue resolved.
Need support on an HMRC R&D tax credit enquiry? Call our enquiry support team on 0207 926 9022 to discuss how we can protect your business.