27TH JUNE, 2023

The Role of R&D Tax Credits in the Growth of UK Construction Companies

The UK construction industry is a vital contributor to the growth of the national economy, generating a staggering £117bn annually. To stay competitive in this dynamic sector, construction companies need to continuously innovate and invest in Research and Development (R&D). In recent years, R&D tax credits have played a crucial role in incentivising businesses in the sector, allowing them to remain ahead of the curve and promote sustainable development practices.

The relationship between R&D and the construction industry has proven to be vital in developing new construction materials, techniques, and technologies. It serves as the backbone of a dynamic industry that is constantly evolving to keep up with modern technological advancements. Today, R&D encompasses developing eco-friendly and safe construction approaches, integrating smart technology, and improving project management practices.

R&D tax credits offer UK construction companies immense benefits, allowing them to reclaim a portion of their investments in innovation, reducing their tax burden and benefiting from cash payments. To qualify for R&D tax credits, companies must demonstrate a commitment to science and technology advancements.

Maximising the use of R&D tax credits is a vital aspect of UK construction companies, allowing them to keep up with emerging trends in the sector, remain competitive, and continue innovating. Common qualifying activities in the construction sector include improving construction materials, innovative construction methods, overcoming technical uncertainties, and developing eco-friendly construction solutions.

The future of R&D and R&D tax credits is bright, as the UK government continues to provide incentives, helping the construction industry innovate and sustainably grow. Through R&D tax credits, construction companies can reinvest their savings to continue driving advancements within their industry, fostering growth and creating an enduring legacy of sustainable development practices.

The Relationship between R&D and the UK Construction Industry

The United Kingdom's construction industry has a long history of R&D, with the sector's growth closely tied to innovation in construction materials, methods, and technologies. The industry's initial focus on improving structural integrity and optimising material use has now expanded to encompass a broad range of activities. Today, R&D in the sector includes developing eco-friendly construction methods, enhancing safety measures, integrating smart technology, and improving project management approaches.

The impact of R&D on the construction industry's growth and innovation cannot be understated. Through R&D, companies have been able to develop safer, more efficient construction techniques, create more durable materials, and adopt technologies that improve project efficiency. These developments not only boost the industry's output but also enhance its sustainability and resilience. R&D also plays a vital role in enabling construction companies to remain competitive in a constantly evolving market.

The current state of R&D in the construction sector is promising. With increasing demand for sustainable buildings and smart cities, there are ample opportunities for companies to innovate and drive growth through R&D. The UK government has acknowledged the importance of R&D in the industry and incentivised construction companies to invest in innovation through R&D tax credits.

The impact of R&D tax credits on the construction industry has been significant. These credits have provided construction firms with the financial flexibility to invest in innovative projects, enabling them to drive forward advancements in the industry and grow their businesses. R&D tax credits have become a vital source of funding for many construction companies, supporting them in their journey to innovate, stay competitive, and navigate financial challenges.

The UK construction industry's relationship with R&D is essential to its growth and competitiveness. Through R&D, companies can develop safer, more efficient, and eco-friendly construction methods, materials, and technologies, driving innovation and growth in the sector. R&D tax credits have become a valuable incentive for construction companies to invest in innovation, further strengthening the industry's prospects for the future.

Understanding R&D Tax Credits

Research and Development (R&D) tax credits are a government incentive aimed at encouraging innovation across all sectors, including construction, by allowing companies to claim back a portion of their expenditure on qualifying R&D activities. These tax credits serve as a financial incentive and offer a reduction in tax liability or even a cash payment to companies that invest in R&D.

To be eligible for R&D tax credits, an SME must meet several criteria.

Firstly, the activity must qualify as R&D according to UK tax rules.

Secondly, the project must be company-funded, aimed at advancing knowledge and solving a technical problem, and involve scientific or technological uncertainty.

Thirdly, the SME must be a UK company paying corporation tax, have less than 500 employees, and an annual turnover of less than £100 million.

Construction businesses can benefit from two types of R&D tax credits. The first is the SME R&D tax credit, which provides a tax credit of up to 33% of qualifying R&D expenditure. The second is the R&D expenditure credit (RDEC), which is aimed at larger companies and offers a tax credit of up to 13%. Companies can benefit from either credit, depending on their size, annual turnover, and eligibility criteria. 

πŸ’‘Post 1st April 2023 - Profit-making SMEs can claim back 21.5% (prev. 25%) of eligible development expenditure and loss-making SMEs can receive up to 27% (prev. 33%) of eligible expenditure as a tax credit payable in cash.πŸ’‘

To maximise the benefits of these tax credits, companies must understand what R&D activities qualify for them, work with R&D tax credit experts to document their projects correctly, and submit their claims to HMRC. With the right support, construction companies can utilise R&D tax credits to accelerate their innovative efforts, grow their businesses and make a significant positive impact on the industry.

πŸ”¬ Want to understand what 'technological or scientific uncertainty' really means in the context of R&D tax credits? πŸ’‘ Click here to read our detailed blog post and gain crucial insights that could maximise your claim! πŸ’Έ

The Impact of R&D Tax Credits on Construction Companies

Since the introduction of R&D tax credits by the UK government, construction companies have been able to see their operations transformed through the injection of vital funding for their research and development activities. The impact of R&D tax credits has been undeniable - companies that have been able to maximise the use of these credits have been able to accelerate their growth and become more competitive in the industry.

Real-life examples of construction companies that have benefited from R&D tax credits are numerous. Many forward-thinking businesses have utilised these credits to support cutting-edge innovation in the construction industry, leading to the development of stronger and more sustainable structures. One such example includes the use of novel materials and innovative designs to support the creation of efficient, better-insulated and outstanding energy performing buildings.

With R&D tax credits, construction companies have the financial flexibility to invest in new products, processes and services that help them to keep up with the evolving demands of clients. This has enabled them to deliver outstanding quality products, reduce their time-to-market and enhance their overall productivity. Companies can now conduct research and testing without having to worry about the financial implications, which enables them to stay ahead of the competition.

The potential long-term impact of R&D tax credits on a company's growth is immense. With companies that take advantage of these credits able to accelerate their research and development efforts, they can compete with larger companies, establish a better reputation, and even expand their operations. As a result, it is essential for construction companies to understand the value of R&D tax credits and how to maximise their use. This will ultimately enable them to deliver the best results for their clients, and make the industry even better.

How to Maximise the Use of R&D Tax Credits

To maximise the use of R&D tax credits in the construction industry, companies need to have a clear understanding of what activities qualify for these credits and how to document them effectively. Below are some tips and strategies to help construction companies maximise the use of R&D tax credits:

Tips for Identifying R&D Activities within Construction Projects

To identify qualifying R&D activities within construction projects, companies should consider the following:

Focus on the science or technology behind the project: R&D tax credits are designed to reward companies that are advancing science or technology within their industry. Therefore, companies should focus on the underlying science or technology behind their construction projects and determine how they are pushing the boundaries of these fields.

Identify technical uncertainties: R&D tax credits are also available for construction projects that are designed to overcome technical uncertainties. Companies should identify the technical uncertainties they faced during the project and explain how they were resolved through R&D activities.

Look for innovation in materials and methods: R&D tax credits are available for construction projects that involve the development of new or improved materials or methods. Companies should focus on how they have developed innovative materials or construction methods that are pushing the industry forward.

πŸ“–Read our latest article on Understanding Qualifying Indirect Activities for R&D Tax Credits in the UK πŸ“–

Strategies to Properly Document R&D Efforts for Tax Credit Claims

Once construction companies have identified their qualifying R&D activities, they need to ensure that they are properly documented for tax credit claims. Here are some strategies for documenting R&D efforts:

Keep detailed records: Companies should maintain detailed records of all R&D activities, including project plans, lab notebooks, and research papers.

Use language that describes R&D: When documenting R&D activities, companies should use language that describes the scientific or technological advancements they are making.

Seek third-party validation: Third-party validation, such as patents or academic publications, can help to provide additional evidence to support R&D tax credit claims.

πŸ“– Read our guide on R&D Tax Credits: A quick guide to technical reports πŸ“–

Common Pitfalls to Avoid When Claiming R&D Tax Credits

Construction companies may also face some common pitfalls when claiming R&D tax credits. Here are some tips to avoid these pitfalls:

Avoid claiming routine activities: Routine activities such as regular maintenance or simple repairs do not qualify for R&D tax credits. Companies should ensure that their claims focus on truly innovative activities.

Avoid exaggerating claims: Companies need to be honest and transparent when making R&D tax credit claims. Claims that exaggerate the level of innovation or technological advancements are likely to be rejected.

Seek professional advice: Companies should seek professional advice from tax experts or R&D specialists to ensure that they are maximising the use of R&D tax credits and that their claims are properly documented.

By following these tips and strategies, construction companies can maximise the use of R&D tax credits and continue to innovate, grow, and strengthen the UK construction industry as a whole.

πŸ”“Unlock the full potential of your R&D tax credit claim now! πŸ’‘ Dive into our comprehensive guide on submitting a winning R&D tax credit claim for UK SMEs – it's a must-read for innovative businesses!

Future Outlook

The future of R&D and R&D tax credits in the UK construction industry is promising, with many opportunities for construction companies to innovate and grow. With the increasing focus on sustainable construction and smart cities, R&D will become even more critical in the industry's growth and development. The UK government's commitment to promoting R&D through tax credits will undoubtedly support construction companies in their efforts to advance the industry.

At Autumn Statement 2022, as part of the review into the R&D tax reliefs, the Chancellor committed to considering the case for further support for R&D intensive SMEs. Following engagement with industry, the Chancellor is now acting to provide that support. From 1 April 2023, a higher rate of relief for loss-making R&D intensive SMEs will be introduced. SME companies for which qualifying R&D expenditure constitutes at least 40% of total expenditure will be able to claim a higher payable credit rate of 14.5% for qualifying R&D expenditure.

Construction companies can prepare to maximise future R&D tax credits by investing in the necessary research and development activities that qualify for tax credit claims. With a strategic R&D roadmap, companies can identify and prioritise R&D activities that align with their business objectives, such as developing new construction materials, improving project efficiency, or creating eco-friendly construction methods.

To maximise future R&D tax credits, companies should also ensure that they are accurately documenting their R&D efforts. This includes keeping detailed records of R&D activities and expenses, as well as properly identifying and categorising qualifying activities. By documenting their R&D efforts, construction companies can ensure successful R&D tax credit claims and reinvest their savings into future R&D projects.

Overall, the future of R&D in the UK construction industry is bright, with ongoing government commitment and increasing demand for sustainable and smart construction. Construction companies that embrace R&D, leverage R&D tax credits, and document their efforts accurately can drive innovation, strengthen their position in the industry, and contribute to the sector's growth and development.


In summary, R&D tax credits offer a valuable opportunity for UK construction companies to invest in innovation and stay competitive. The relationship between R&D and the construction industry is crucial, with new developments advancing the industry's output, sustainability and resilience. R&D tax credits allow businesses to claim back a portion of their expenditure on qualifying R&D activities, and these credits have become a vital source of funding for many construction companies. With successful R&D tax credit claims, companies can reinvest their savings into further R&D efforts, accelerating their growth and strengthening the UK construction industry as a whole.

However, there are still many construction companies that are not taking full advantage of R&D tax credits due to a lack of understanding about what qualifies as R&D. It is essential for companies to properly identify and document their R&D efforts to maximise the benefit from these tax credits. By developing new or improved construction materials, methods, and technologies, overcoming technical uncertainties in projects and developing environmentally-friendly construction techniques, companies can qualify for R&D tax credits and invest in future growth.

The future of R&D and R&D tax credits in the UK construction industry appears promising. The increasing demand for sustainable buildings and smart cities means that R&D in the construction sector is more critical than ever. With the UK government's ongoing commitment to encouraging R&D through tax credits, construction businesses can look forward to more opportunities to innovate and strengthen their position in the industry.

R&D tax credits have a vital part to play in the growth and competitiveness of UK construction companies. By leveraging these tax credits effectively and investing in R&D, companies can innovate, strengthen their position in the industry, and contribute to a better, more sustainable future for the UK construction sector.

Do you have anymore questions? πŸ€” Dive deeper into the world of R&D tax credits with our comprehensive FAQs blog – check it out here! πŸ”

Benefits of getting professional help

Working with an R&D tax consultant or adviser can bring several benefits to your business. Firstly, it can save you time and effort, allowing you to focus on your core competencies and business goals. A professional can take care of the laborious and time-consuming aspects of the claim process, ensuring that the claim is structured and completed in a timely and efficient manner.

In addition, a professional can help you to maximise your R&D tax credit claim by identifying all eligible activities and expenditures and ensuring that they are included. This can result in a larger claim and a greater financial benefit for your business.

Finally, a professional can provide peace of mind by ensuring that your claim is robustly structured and supported with the necessary documentation. This can reduce the risk of an audit or investigation by HMRC and protect your business from potential financial harm.

While it is possible for businesses to navigate the process of claiming R&D tax credits independently, seeking professional advice can bring significant benefits. By working with a qualified and experienced tax consultant or adviser, your business can save time and effort, maximise your claim, and reduce the risk of an audit or investigation.

πŸ€” Confused about whether to choose a specialist or an accountant for R&D tax credits? πŸ’ΌπŸ”¬ Click here to explore our in-depth blog post and make the best choice for your business' R&D tax credit journey! πŸ’ΈπŸ‘

Get in touch

If you would like to discuss any aspect of R&D Tax Credits or the Tax Cloud portal, feel free to contact our friendly expert team on 020 7360 4437 or send us a message.

Barrie Dowsett, ACMA, GCMA
Author Barrie Dowsett, ACMA, GCMA CEO, Tax Cloud
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