Northern Ireland businesses claimed a total of £55m in R&D Tax Credits last year but that figure marked a fall from the year before and the province trails significantly behind other UK regions a local specialist firm has claimed.
The Bangor based Momentum Group said data from HMRC showed there has been a slight decrease in Northern Ireland companies claiming R&D Tax Credits, which are designed to drive innovation.
In addition, the province fared poorly compared to other regions such as South-East England which secured £660m in R&D tax claims and West Midlands which claimed back £295m.
The average received per R&D tax claim by companies in Northern Ireland was £46,000 and, overall, the pro vince accounted for just 3% of total claims and 2% of the total tax benefits claimed.
“While HMRC statistics show many companies in NI are wakening up to the benefits of R&D Tax Credits, the potential is far greater,” said group MD Tom Verner.
“In our experience, there are still so many local businesses that are either not aware of R&D Tax Credits, incorrectly think they do not qualify or feel they lack the necessary experience to submit a claim.
“In fact, many companies are not claiming their full legitimate entitlement.”
Mr Verner added that the firm, which recently announced a partnership with Manufacturing Northern Ireland, was urging companies to look at the opportunities to boost development and ultimately bottom lines.
“For NI to be truly competitive, it is vital that companies recognise the potential of this very accessible UK government incentive,” he said. “At the very least we should be on par with the rest of the UK.
“Given the potential, we find it startling that more companies aren’t claiming, and we have made it our mission to highlight the incentive, particularly on occasions like today when regional results put Northern Ireland at the bottom of the R&D league table.”
Ron Gibson, Momentum operations and technical director, who sits on HMRC’s R&D Consultative Committee, added: “In an unregulated area, involving often complex financial review, we find increasingly that owners, managing directors, financial controllers and their accountants are turning to the experts to navigate through this intricate R&D tax area.”