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Record R&D spend in construction

The latest ONS data has revealed record amounts being spent on Research & Development (R&D) in the construction sector, peaking at £351M.

This 9.7% increase equates to a £31M rise year on year, according to ONS statistics for 2018.

A number of reasons have been put forward for the increase, not least being the growing awareness of Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) and government policy to push the use of MMC forward throughout the industry and indeed extablish teh UK as a world leader in offsite construction.

The amount that UK businesses across all sectors have invested in R&D continues to grow, rising £1.4Bn to £25bn in 2018 — up 5.8%. Manufacturing was associated with £16.3Bn of R&D spending, up 4.7%, but pharmaceuticals remained the biggest product group with £4.5Bn of R&D spending, up 3.3%. The telecoms sector plotted the largest percentage increase in R&D spending, climbing 25.4% to £947M.

The number of staff employed by UK businesses also continued to grow, rising 7.3% annually to exceed 250,000 full-time equivalents for the first time.

Mark Tighe, chief executive of R&D tax relief specialists Catax, said: “The construction industry is a huge employer in this country but contributes a relatively small amount to the UK total of R&D spending.

“However, the sector is experiencing some interesting changes, not least the rapid growth of  offsite construction methods. This is likely to be a contributing factor behind this large jump in overall R&D spending last year.

“More broadly, this is the second full year that Brexit Britain has shrugged off the political poison after the EU referendum and posted great gains in terms of R&D investment, running head and shoulders above the long-term average.

“For the first time in history a quarter of a million people nationwide are engaged full time in keeping the UK at the cutting edge. This is going to make a huge difference to Britain’s prospects outside the EU.

“The rate at which UK businesses are adding R&D staff to the workforce remains impressive, virtually matching the previous year with a rise of 7.3%.”

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