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2023: ForrestBrown - a year in review

Sara Bridgen managing director
Managing Director
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A simple graphic showing events of 2023 in R&D tax.

2023 has been a year of change for R&D tax relief, but at ForrestBrown our focus has remained constant – providing best-in-class advice to our clients, helping some of the UK’s most innovative businesses to grow.
We’re proud to support the full lifecycle of these businesses of all sizes and ambition, at every stage of their journey.

This year has been remarkable in more ways than one – with an award win and a 10th birthday to celebrate. We’ve also seen significant changes to the marketplace. But as the policy landscape has evolved, so has our approach. Our consulting team continues to rise to the challenge and similarly, support for our accountant partners remains foundational.

Having to operate in an environment of change and complexity only motivates our team to go further for our clients. Adding value is at the heart of everything we do. 2024 will be no different.  

10 years of award-winning tax consultancy

In September ForrestBrown celebrated our tenth birthday. It was fantastic to come together and reflect on the success of our first decade having been named Best Independent Consultancy Firm in Tolley’s 2023 Taxation Awards for the third time (2016, 2018) since the company was founded.

Tolley’s Taxation Awards 2023. Image copyright www.tellingphotography.com

This accolade underscored the ForrestBrown journey from market disruptors to industry leaders. The award was given for technical excellence and client service and the judges commended our role in elevating professional standards amidst a challenging market landscape.

We couldn’t have achieved this success without our fantastic team, or our strong collaborations with our partners.

FB Consulting: meeting the challenge of a changing landscape

2023 saw HMRC take significant steps to combat error and fraud within the R&D incentive, a move which in principle was welcome, but has led to many businesses’ genuine claims being caught in the crossfire.

In perhaps the biggest change to the incentive since its inception, the Chancellor announced the merged scheme for R&D at the despatch box as part of Autumn Statement 2023.

Our FB Consulting team has been working proactively to support clients in understanding how these changes affect them and planning what steps they need to take to prepare for the future.

As the R&D landscape changes, the scope of work we are undertaking is also evolving. This year alone, FB Consulting has advised clients in specialist areas including enquiry support, dispute resolution, portfolio risk analysis and subcontracting analysis. We expect this trend to continue in 2024 and remain well positioned to support businesses with these and other challenges as the new R&D environment takes shape.

Next year we will continue to help shape the future of R&D tax policy by proactively contributing to these conversations. A highlight for 2023 was the Labour and Conservative party conferences where in partnership with Centre for Cities we hosted panel discussions on the theme of “unlocking innovation across the UK”.

Enhancing our support for accountants and their clients

The tranche of recent changes to R&D tax relief has also created complexity for accountants and their clients. In the spring, the ForrestBrown team held a series of events across the UK, during which we polled accountants on their attitudes to recent changes. The data revealed some emerging challenges and concerns, with just under a third (28%) of accountants reporting that they no longer want to work on R&D tax relief claims as a result of the additional requirements and HMRC’s approach to compliance.

Accountants attending an event held by ForrestBrown in May 2023.
ForrestBrown hosted accountants from across the UK at a series of events throughout May and June 2023.

At ForrestBrown we’ve seen increased demand for our services from accountants, including from top 50 firms wanting specialist technical support. The recently introduced Additional Information Form (AIF), and requirement for extra case studies to be included in claims, alongside the sweeping compliance activity from HMRC has contributed to many accountants reassessing how they approach R&D tax relief.

As the market continues to evolve, we will continue to support our accountant partners, building long-term partnerships based on trust by providing an award-winning specialist service that sees our accountant partners’ clients grow.

New service lines unlocking value for our clients

These events underlined that as well as continued support for R&D tax relief, future governments must make the most of other innovation incentives at their disposal. That’s why this this year we’ve leveraged our tax and technical expertise beyond our original horizons, expanding our repertoire to help businesses make the most of funding opportunities across the full innovation toolkit.

In April we were delighted to be joined by Peter Reynolds, a leading capital allowances specialist, ensuring our clients can view the big picture when planning their investment. With the introduction of full expensing, Peter is well positioned to help uncover potential savings and free up funds for further investment in your business.

Peter’s arrival was followed by Karim Budabuss, Grant Advisory Director. Having previously led the decarbonisation grants service for a Big Four firm in the UK, Karim’s in-depth knowledge of grants provides further support for the innovative businesses we work with, enabling them to explore a wide range of funding opportunities.

In the new year the third phase of the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund will open, allowing Karim the opportunity to discuss planned capital investment projects with clients that might be eligible for IETF funding, which totals £185m.

Completing our suite of new offerings is our Patent Box relief service led by Angela Banerjee, helping our clients amplify the benefits of their innovation. It has been fantastic to see the team help our clients fully realise the value of their intellectual property (IP) investments.

Looking ahead to 2024

ForrestBrown also continues to help shape the future of R&D tax relief, working with government on the ongoing reforms and consulting on improving standards ensuring we continue to deliver excellence for our clients.

Since ForrestBrown’s inception in 2013, we have been committed to excellence. Our aim continues to be the UK’s leading innovation incentives specialist, delivering first class service – and results – to our clients. We are well equipped to do just that.

If next year proves anything like 2023, there is much work to be done.

Happy holidays and a happy new year!