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Timber championed with the launch of WoodFest

November 26th, 2018 No comments

The North East will celebrate everything built with wood as the first WoodFest comes to Newcastle in December, with an exciting line-up of events organised by the UK timber industry’s campaign, Wood for Good.

WoodFest Newcastle will bring together architects, engineers, placemakers, planners, developers, contractors, politicians and local businesses specialising in timber to promote the innovative and striking ways that wood can be used in the built environment in the North East.

Christiane Lellig, Wood for Good campaign director, said:

“The first in a series of regional WoodFests, this as a fantastic opportunity to bring all those involved with the built environment to explore what industry and politics can achieve together.

“Each event is a chance to learn and share about the use of timber in architecture, particularly around health and wellbeing and offsite construction. It provides a platform to discover what’s happening in the region and to be inspired by timber design.”

The week begins with a behind-the-scenes tour of wood-based materials manufacturer, Egger’s site in Hexham on 10 December. In the evening, Dr Oliver G.F. Jones, architecture professor and expert in human-environment interaction at Northumbria University, will give the keynote speech at a seminar on wellbeing, residential design and healthy homes. Taking place at Ryder Architecture’s home in Cooper’s Studios, Westgate Road, Newcastle, Dr Jones will be joined by a panel of experts including local housing providers and design professionals to explore biophilic design, light, space and air quality among other issues.

Offsite construction steals the show on 12 December with an evening seminar debating whether modern methods of construction are the future for homes in the North East. Hosted by Ryder at Cooper’s Studios, an expert panel will explore Home England’s strategic plan incorporatin g offsite construction and will ask if it’s the silver bullet to deliver much-needed homes.

A site visit to the unique self-build home, Shawm House, takes place on 11 December. Designed by Newcastle-based MawsonKerr Architects, the timber home won four regional RIBA awards, a national RIBA award and was shortlisted for Grand Designs ‘House of the Year’ in 2017. This is a rare opportunity to hear the homeowner’s story and experience the house for yourself.

Taking place throughout the week is an exhibition at Cooper’s Studios, exploring healthy buildings and driving the design and construction quality agenda through the use of modern methods of construction.

The finale for WoodFest Newcastle is the Superwood Conference on Friday 14 December at Northumbria University, hosted by Confor. Looking at how forestry and timber can drive a low carbon economy, the conversation will explore the opportunities for increasing forestry in the North East and the lessons that can be learned from Scotland.

Speakers include Paul Brennan, MEP for the North East, Adam James from Ryder Architecture, Councillor Peter Jackson, leader of Northumberland County Council, Dr Dan Ridley-Ellis from Edinburgh Napier University, Beccy Speight from the Woodland Trust, Neil Sutherland from Makar, Stuart Goodall from Confor, Simon Hart from Egger Forestry and Christiane Lellig from Wood for Good.

WoodFest Newcastle is organised in collaboration with regional partners Constructing Excellence, Egger, Mawson Kerr, RIBA North East, and Ryder Architecture.

Book your place for the WoodFest Newcastle events here: https://woodforgood.com/index/woodfest-newcastle/

More information will be released soon about other regional WoodFests taking place throughout the country in 2019.

If you would like to get involved in WoodFest please contact Wood for Good campaign director, Christiane Lellig, at christiane.lellig@woodforgood.com

www.woodforgood.com

 

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1,400 construction workers committed suicide between 2011 – 2015

November 20th, 2018 No comments

Mental Health In Construction

 

  • Over 1,400 construction workers committed suicide between 2011 – 2015.
  • Construction trades have the highest number of suicides of any profession.
  • Risk of suicide for those working in building and construction trades is 1.6 times higher than the national average.
  • More than a quarter of construction employees have considered taking their own life.
  • Workers admit to suffering in silence.
  • Many within the industry suffer in silence due to cultural expectations.
  • Many workers feel forced to “deal with it,” not seeking out the help they need, and symptoms get worse.

The stats surrounding mental health in the construction industry are so shocking that we thought it was important that we highlighted the issue.

The construction industry has the highest number of suicides of any profession with 1,400 workers taking their own lives over the course of only four years. One in seven workers knows a colleague who has taken their own life and many more workers have considered it. The risk of suicide for those working in the industry is 1.6 times higher than the national average, but what is the cause of this and what can be done to reduce these horrific figures?

Suffering In Silence

One big factor that jumps out of the many surveys that have been conducted around this topic is the fact that many workers have admitted to suffering in silence due to cultural expectations. They feel like they cannot talk about their troubles and that, if they did want to speak to someone about it, that there is simply nowhere to do so.

Normally if you are struggling at work you turn to your employer for help. However, in this industry, it doesn’t seem to be the case with workers stating that they would not turn to their employer due to “fear and stigma” of the subject and that as many as 1 in 5 say they felt their job would be at risk if they did so. It seems to be so bad that 90% of workers who’ve considered suicide or know a colleague who has committed suicide, do not turn to their employer for support. As a result, many workers feel forced to “deal with it,” not seeking out the help they need, and symptoms get worse.

 

It’s Not Just The Guys That Are Struggling

Women are finding it equally tough to cope with mental health issues too. 45% of women workers said their mental health was average to poor at present, with 43% saying they had experienced reduced productivity and 75% had experienced loss of sleep too.

 

So, How To Help Workers?

After compiling the responses from the multiple surveys on mental health in the construction industry, it’s clear that there are three main areas that need to be improved. The first is to have staff training to recognise early signs of mental health, as 73% of respondents felt their employers lacked this skill. Second is to raise awareness of mental health in the construction industry. A massive 83% of workers agree that there isn’t enough out there at the moment. This will also decrease the stigma of mental health. And finally, there need to be more outlets to enable workers to talk about their struggles. Two-thirds of workers believe this would help with another 43% asking for one of those outlets to be an anonymous helpline.

If you are struggling with a mental health issue there are many ways you can find help. Your GP will be able to make an initial diagnosis and point you in the right direction for further treatment. There are charities and third-party organisations that offer free help and listening services such as the Samaritans and SANEline. However, if you are more open about talking about how you are feeling, always talk to friends & family as they will know you better than anyone. Another route could be co-workers or your employer as they’ll be able to relate work-wise with your issues. Whichever options you choose, the first step is to just talk about it.

 

www.rubberbond.co.uk

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TSA steps up the campaign to halt equipment theft

November 15th, 2018 No comments

New advice available for site staff and managers to download

The Survey Association (TSA) is sharing its latest anti-theft Briefing Note with the wider construction and engineering industry in a bid to deter opportunistic crime and aid the recovery of stolen equipment. ­­­

A new document, endorsed by crime prevention experts, SmartWater contains information to help companies review their security, with advice on safeguarding high value survey instruments routinely targeted by thieves.

The free to download Briefing Note, includes strategies to protect equipment from theft whilst onsite and when transported in a vehicle.

In addition, and also free to download, is a checklist for employees that could be shared on staff noticed boards. If a theft occurs, personal safety and obtaining good evidence should be the main considerations.

Both documents and others on a range of technical topics can be downloaded at https://www.tsa-uk.org.uk/downloads/

A three-year agreement between TSA and SmartWater, sponsored by the leading manufacturers, is the first, co-ordinated response to thieves that persistently target surveyors.

Information submitted through SmartWater’s Intelligence Portal is shared with the police to identify crime hotspots, emerging crime trends and possible links to current investigations.

TSA manager Rachel Tyrrell said, “Theft of equipment is not limited to the surveying profession which is why we are sharing our crime prevention advice with the wider industry.

“TSA Members, non-Member companies, and those in the wider construction and engineering industry, can download our documents and report incidents of theft through the Intelligence Portal to ensure the whole picture is captured.”

To submit information on equipment theft email TSA office@tsa-uk.org.uk

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Are you complying with the Working at Height Regulations 2005? Read the Essential Guidelines

November 9th, 2018 Comments off

Are you complying with the Working at Height Regulations 2005? Read the Essential Guidelines

Health & Safety Executive (HSE) have stated that working at height is the leading cause of death and serious injury in the construction industry.  Did you know that it is responsible for 28% of fatal injuries in working environments? This is due to both the risk of falling, and objects being dropped from above. With this in mind, it is essential for any person employed in construction to have a thorough understanding of the Working at Height Regulations 2005.

What are the Work at Height Regulations?

These regulations set out a list of rules that should be followed in order to avoid injury. The rules are mandatory for employers or those in charge of working at height, and can be enforced by law. Whether there is a risk of falling from a ladder, from the edge of a structure, or through an opening at ground level, the rules always apply.

How do you comply with the Regulations?

A basic understanding of hierarchy within the regulations is a good place to start. Here’s the hierarchy of control measures explained:

  • Firstly, you should try to avoid any work at height if at all possible. This could be achieved by using extended tools rather than ladders, or by lowering items to ground level before carrying out repairs.
  • When working at height is unavoidable, you are required to do everything possible to eliminate the risks to employees. This could involve working from a balcony, or providing machinery with guards/rails (e.g. PASMA Mobile Access Tower)
  • When risks cannot be avoided, you will need to minimise the distance and consequences of a fall. In order to do this you would need to research options such as netting, airbags, harnesses and Personal Protective Equipment.

What should I do next?

  1. Undertake a risk assessment

Ensure you have identified any hazards and the employees at risk. Based on this, you will need to put in place suitable precautions. Be aware that you are required to record your findings if you have five or more employees.

  1. Ensure your staff are competent

Are the staff working at height experienced? Do they have the necessary skills and knowledge to perform the task safely? The level of competence depends upon the complexity of the job. To understand more about this, read the HSE guide to competence.

Some jobs may only require basic training, such as guidance from a senior employee. Technical tasks will require a higher degree of training, such as completing a course on the safe use of ladders/working at height.

Any staff involved in assembling, dismantling, inspecting or moving mobile access towers should complete a PASMA training course, such as the PASMA Tower for Users Course.

  1. Equip your employees with appropriate safety tools

You are required to provide proper safety equipment for your staff. Each task is different, and you’ll need to make sure that you choose the best option for the job. A guardrail or mobile access tower would be one of the safest measures. However, sometimes this may not be feasible and you would then need to use PPE, such as safety harnesses.

  1. Regularly inspect and maintain equipment

Once you have the ladders, PPE, guard rails or access towers, you shouldn’t simply assume the risk has been negated. The equipment may move, degrade or break over time. Make sure you have someone trained to inspect the gear and that this is done on a regular basis.

By following the steps above, you’re helping to ensure that you are working within the law and prioritising the safety of employees.

This article was written by The Hireman, a tool hire and safety training company based in London.
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Survey reveals that many are leaving it too late to secure their homes

November 2nd, 2018 Comments off

With the night’s drawing in and the clocks set to go back, National Home Security Month comes at the perfect time to remind the public of the importance of home security.

A recent survey of nearly 600 tradespeople found that 85% said their customers only asked them to fit security products following a break-in to their property.

The survey, carried out by leading online supplier, IronmongeryDirect, also revealed that only one in three tradespeople feel ‘very confident’ when advising customers on better ways to secure their home. In addition, only 14% said they felt confident advising customers on smart security products.

Research by the National Home Security Month[1] campaign shows that a home is five times more likely to be burgled if no security measures are in place against those with two or three measures taken.

The top three concerns among tradespeople’s customers, as revealed in the IronmongeryDirect survey, were poor window security, poor door security and a lack of alarm systems.

When the Office of National Statistics (ONS) released its latest crime statistics earlier this year, it revealed that 1 in every 50 homes in England and Wales were burgled in the previous 12-month period.

An additional online poll in support of National Home Security Month found that 71% of respondents felt their home wasn’t secure enough.

Wayne Lysaght-Mason, Managing Director at IronmongeryDirect, said: “Certain parts of a property are more vulnerable to a break-in than others, with doors and windows obviously being the most susceptible, while dark areas outside provide the ideal cover for intruders.

“To address these vulnerabilities, there is a wide range of products available to help keep a building safe and secure – from a basic lock to sophisticated alarm systems. Increasingly, homeowners are also switching to smart technology products providing remote monitoring to secure their property.”

For any advice and support on the best products to enhance the security of a property, contact our helpdesk on 0800 168 28 28 or visit IronmongeryDirect.com.

You can also view our latest infographic which reveals tradespeople’s biggest concerns and the most popular home security products

[1] http://www.homesecuritymonth.com/

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Building on Success? UK Construction and the 2018 Budget

November 1st, 2018 Comments off

The building trade has always needed to keep a sharp eye on the Budget. Between a looming skills shortage and an uncertain Brexit deal, firms across the industry were looking to Chancellor Philip Hammond to throw his weight behind them this year. Here are a couple of the key headlines:

PFI and PF2 are out

Private Finance Initiatives, according to Mr. Hammond, simply haven’t been good value for money. Partnerships between the public and private sectors are still very much part of the picture, but not in the form of current PFI or PF2 deals.

The Chancellor talked about PFIs failing to “transfer risk” to the private sector – wording that’s already raising a few hackles – but existing contracts will still be honoured.

Tax breaks for non-residential buildings

New, permanent tax relief is coming in for non-residential structures, in the form of a Structures and Buildings Allowance.

Buildings can qualify once put into professional use, to the tune of 2% per year on eligible construction costs.

Renovation and conversion of existing commercial structures can also qualify. Some of the cash for this is coming from adjusting the special writing down rate to 6%.

Housing

With his sights set on 650,000 new homes, Mr. Hammond pumped an additional £500 million into the Housing Infrastructure Fund.

The fund now stacks up to a grand total of £5.5 billion overall. “Strategic partnerships” with housing associations are apparently set to deliver 13,000 homes in England, while SME homebuilders will have the support of up to £1 billion in British Business Bank guarantees.

Lifting the local authority borrowing cap could see a new generation of council house building.

Roads

£30bn of road spending was announced including a £25.3bn allocation for the second Road Investment Strategy (RIS2), which will be delivered by Highways England between April 2020 and March 2025.

A further £3.5bn is set aside for National Roads Fund for UK-wide and local major road schemes between 2020 and 2025, funded by vehicle excise duty.

Local authorities have been granted an extra £420m to fix potholes and carry out other repairs to infrastructure, along with £150m to carry out minor works on local road junctions.

What does it all mean?

As the UK’s last Budget as an EU member, there was a lot to chew over. Frozen fuel duty and a focus on roads will be welcome, as will some strong moves on the housing crisis.

The death of PFI is a concern to many, though – along with incoming rules on private firms with self-employed workforces.

Greater investment in the construction industry, both for minor works and major development projects is good news.

Spending commitments for the regions and money earmarked for transforming our high streets should provide some a boost to construction employment opportunities and spreading out job creation across the country.

Ideally these promises will encourage more people to join or return to the industry alleviating the current skills shortage by linking this investment to training and job creation, such as the £695m funding package to train three million new apprentices this parliament.

There’s cautious talk of a “no-deal” Brexit requiring a fiscal rethink, but it does seem that UK construction is at least being taken seriously.

 

 

Bradly Post, Managing Director of RIFT tax refunds
https://www.riftrefunds.co.uk/
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A work van is broken into, and tools are stolen, every 23 minutes in the UK.

October 29th, 2018 Comments off

A work van is broken into, and tools are stolen, every 23 minutes in the UK.

Research from Powertools2U reveals that the average tool theft claim costs the tradesperson £1,692 – a figure that unfortunately, can sometimes be doubled with 50% of victims having had their tools stolen at least twice.

Powertools2U have analysed the tool theft epidemic, uncovering how much is stolen on average every year and how this can affect tradespeople both financially and mentally: https://www.powertools2u.co.uk/blog/tool-theft-in-the-uk/

The Results of the Tool Theft Epidemic

  • In 2017, the average value of theft claims rose to £1,692, which was an increase of £253 from the year before.
  • 50% of tradespeople who’ve experienced tool theft couldn’t work the next day, with some workers having to take a fortnight off.
  • Being unable to work costs 50% of tradespeople at least £500.
  • 75% of reported vehicle thefts are closed without identifying a suspect.
  • Tool theft costs Britain’s tradespeople nearly £100 million a year.

With van break-ins becoming a bigger problem for tradespeople, Powertools2U have uncovered the worst cities for tool theft across the UK:

UK Tool Theft Hotspots:

  1. London
  2. Sheffield
  3. Birmingham
  4. Leicester
  5. Chelmsford
  6. Tunbridge Wells
  7. Bristol
  8. Nottingham
  9. Northampton
  10. Reading
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Gilbert-Ash Builds Team Success with Six New Senior Appointments

October 16th, 2018 Comments off

Leading UK construction, refurbishment and fit-out company, Gilbert-Ash, has strengthened its senior team with six internal promotions. The company has promoted four Project Directors and

John Davis, Gilbert-Ash Project Director, is leading the team at the new £17m Royal College of Pathologists headquarters in London

two Senior Surveyors, building on the wealth of expertise already across the team.

 

Gilbert-Ash recently announced its financial results for the year ended 31 December 2017. The results confirm a 50% increase in pre-tax profits to reach over £2m, up from £1.4m in 2016. With results driven by the dedicated 180-strong team, the contractor reported an overall turnover of £165.5m, an increase from £148m in the previous year.

 

It aims to build on this success with the recent Project Director and Senior Surveyor promotions, tapping into the strong potential that has been developed within the company.

 

Whilst carrying out multiple complex projects across the UK and beyond, Gilbert-Ash has been striving to improve its workforce culture and inspiring working environment, through continual investment in its people and innovation.

 

Sean Doran, John Davis, Ciaran Begley and Rodney Coalter have each been appointed as Project Directors, with Paul Carroll and Lyndon Park both promoted to Senior Surveyors. This allows their knowledge to be utilised at a strategic level and for each of them to help guide the company as it moves into a successful future.

 

Ray Hutchinson, Managing Director, Gilbert-Ash commented: “This is an exciting time for Gilbert-Ash as we match our industry success with several in-house promotions to new senior positions. This demonstrates the talent, skills and expertise that Gilbert-Ash possesses, not only at the top level but running throughout the entire team from the ground up.”

 

Current projects include John Davis leading the team at the new £17m Royal College of Pathologists headquarters in London, whilst Ciaran Begley is sharing his expertise at the redevelopment of the Royal College of Music in South Kensington. Additionally, Lyndon Park is readying the £19.5m Cambridge Mosque for completion in December this year.

 

Rodney Coalter is currently working with the team to finalise the refurbishment of Bristol Old Vic, rediscovering its theatrical heritage. The company also continues to work with hotel group Whitbread on numerous concurrent projects, led by Sean Doran and Paul Carroll. As Whitbread Supplier of the Year 2017, Gilbert-Ash’s work takes place across the UK and includes its next generation, technology-enabled Premier Inn hub hotels.

 

Each of the Project Directors and Senior Surveyors joined Gilbert-Ash in the early stages of their career, with Sean Doran and Lyndon Park both joining during their placement year. This demonstrates Gilbert-Ash’s cohesive work culture that has led to an employee retention rate of 87%.

 

Ray Hutchinson added: “Our team of Project Directors and Senior Surveyors will help shape the future of construction at Gilbert-Ash through their determined work ethic and skilled attention to detail. I congratulate each of them on their success and look forward to seeing what the future holds under their steer. The company’s strong growth is driven by our continued focus and investment in both our chosen markets and our people.”

 

Gilbert-Ash recently received the renowned accolade of Contractor of the Year at the Construction News Awards 2018. It has also been shortlisted for Contractor of the Year (up to £300m) at the Building Awards 2018. Over the past 12 months, it has performed strongly on a national level with several high-profile projects, including the £21.5m AC by Marriott Hotel in Belfast City Quays and the £19.5m Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts project in London.

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DTL LAUNCHES VIDEO TRAINING FOR BAE SYSTEMS

October 8th, 2018 Comments off

BAE Systems has looked to Develop Training to help in deploying video teaching for its staff.

Develop Training Ltd (DTL) specialises in the provision of training for the construction and utilities sectors. Both BAE Systems and DTL strongly believe that video teaching, which allows for learners to experience real-world scenarios in the classroom, will help to revolutionise the future delivery of training courses.

DTL initially set out to help BAE Systems develop the skills of its excavation supervisors quickly and effectively in varied operational environments and without the need for extensive travel; it was quickly determined that a customised 2D video was the most effective way of doing this.

The video, which involved three days on-site shooting and six weeks post-production work, has allowed for an innovative two-day course to be created. DTL is now looking to extend the approach more widely to a number of its training courses.

Jamie Hudson, Specialist Engineer at BAE Systems, commented: “We have been delighted with our successful partnership with DTL to develop this new method of training delivery. Being able to experience a variety of real-world scenarios in the classroom will be a huge advantage for trainees. We expect this technology to be used far more widely in future.”

Jim Donnelly, Gas and H&S Delivery Manager at Develop Training, said: “This is an excellent way for delegates to learn important skills. It addresses key learning points easily and effectively, allowing these to be applied practically in the field and in a wide range of situations. It could fundamentally change how we deliver some of our courses in the future.”

The video covers the assessment of excavation sites, equipment suitability and compliance with health and safety regulations amongst a range of other content. This is the latest in a series of key innovations by DTL; although the company specialises in practical skills and apprenticeships in the construction and utility industries, it has previously pioneered the use of e-portfolios for delegates, and has developed a Learning Assessment Portal which allows employers and trainees to manage course bookings and monitor learner progress online.

www.developtraining.co.uk

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New statistics have revealed that UK construction companies benefitted by £80m from UK Government’s R&D Tax Credits in 2017

October 5th, 2018 Comments off

New statistics have revealed that UK construction companies benefitted by £80m from UK Government’s R&D Tax Credits in 2017

Industry receiving highest average payment per R&D Tax Credit claim

The Momentum Group, a leading UK Tax Credit Advisory firm, based in Northern Ireland, has welcomed newly published statistics from HMRC that show the UK construction industry claimed a total of £80m in R&D Tax Credits.

Focused solely on R&D Tax Credits, the company works across most sectors of industry with expertise gained in the last decade working with over 500 companies throughout the UK.

The latest annual statistics from HMRC show there has been a slight decrease in companies from all regions of the UK claiming R&D Tax Credits, which are designed to drive innovation. Across the UK, London had the most claims with Northern Ireland businesses still significantly behind other regions.

The construction industry accounted for only 3% of all claims submitted, highlighting that the industry hasn’t tapped into the potential of the initiative.

The average received per R&D tax claim by construction companies was £58,000. This is slightly lower than the £85,000 average overall payment per claim across the industries surveyed.

Tom Verner, Group Managing Director, Momentum R&D commented: “While HMRC statistics show many industries in the UK are wakening up to the benefits of R&D Tax Credits, the potential is far greater. In our experience, there are still so many construction 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.

“At Momentum, we helped a record number of companies with R&D Tax Credit claims in 2017. These are often highly innovative companies, who can reinvest these savings into technological innovation that bolsters their businesses, exports, employment and the local economy in the wake of Brexit.”

Momentum is calling on more construction businesses to act now on R&D Tax Credits, highlighting that the regional statistics could be much higher given the increasing investment in export here, with Verner adding:

“It is vital that the construction industry recognises the potential of this very accessible UK government incentive. While seeking in-depth advice is vital, with an increasing number of accountancy practices availing of our R&D expertise, we assist businesses every day that have benefitted from tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of pounds. 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 show improvement from companies to claim their optimum benefit.”

Momentum has helped hundreds of highly competitive companies, from manufacturing to construction, food & drink to technology, to claim this UK government incentive. The
multi award-winning company assists in a range of areas, investing in understanding and optimising R&D expenditure.  The team includes accountancy, business, commercial and ex-HMRC technical experts to ensure every claim gets the necessary expert scrutiny and is thoroughly investigated.

Founded in 2009, Momentum is one of the longest established R&D advisory companies in the UK.   It is also the only R&D tax practice that focuses on providing advice on long-term R&D strategies, offering a complimentary annual review to its client enabling them to assess current and forward-plan future research and development projects.

Ron Gibson, Momentum’s 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.”

Momentum works with an increasing number of accountancy practices, business and financial consultants across the UK who partner with the specialist tax credit advisory firm to enhance their service to clients, reduce workload and grow their businesses.

For more information on Momentum visit www.momentumgroupni.com

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