Since 2000, companies have been able to claim significant tax relief for undertaking qualifying R&D, however the uptake among smaller businesses has been and remains low. This can mean reduced corporation tax, or a cash payment from HMRC.
The main barrier to claiming is thought to be concern that the R&D undertaken doesn’t qualify, leaving the business with additional professional fees to pay for an unsuccessful claim.
To overcome this, from Autumn 2015 HMRC are introducing the ability for smaller businesses who have never claimed R&D tax credits to gain advanced assurance whether an R&D project would/does qualify, ahead of doing any calculations and making the claim. This should reduce the speculative risk of making a claim for these businesses.