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4 minute read

Interview: Terry Cheesman, the R&D tax relief specialist helping manufacturers grow

Leading UK R&D specialist, Terry Cheesman, sees his main role as an ‘educator’ in the potential of R&D tax credit, and how it can enable companies to progress, innovate and prosper.

Research & Development (R&D) tax relief is an incentive available to UK Limited companies which encourages investment in innovation. R&D tax credits can reduce a company’s tax liability or if a company is not in profit, it can provide a payable cash refund.

But according to Terry, Associate Partner of Haines Watts R&D North West Ltd – a business owner himself, the majority of companies are unaware of the financial benefits this windfall can bring and only of 3.66% of current eligible SMEs have made an R&D claim.

This is mainly because most businesses falsely believe that research and development is confined to the scientific sectors.

Terry sees his main role as an ‘educator’ in the potential of R&D tax credit, and how it can enable companies to progress, innovate and prosper / Picture: Getty/iStock


Terry said: “People think R&D is just for men in white coats but they couldn’t be further from the truth. We work with a broad range of businesses. There’s no bar on sectors, as long as they can prove they are progressive.

“But it is not on everyone’s radar and not even all accountants are actually up to speed on R&D.”

Leading the team at Haines Watts R&D North West Ltd, Terry is a progressive chartered accountant, tax specialist and business owner with a passion for helping companies of all sizes.

Sharing knowledge

He achieves this by sharing his extensive knowledge of R&D tax relief, combined with thought leadership, strategic business and tax planning to assist business owners in retaining wealth and to achieving exponential growth.

This forward-thinking dynamic company has offices in Altrincham and Liverpool, working with progressive companies throughout the UK to fully maximise their R&D tax relief claims and help them grow.

Terry explained: “We have eleven R&D specialists, with two of us offering 43 years of combined tax experience between us.

“We come from a wealth of backgrounds and have a variety of qualifications. We have one team member who grew up in the family manufacturing business in Africa who is hot on lean manufacturing, another with a masters in physics, one with a masters in biochemistry, one with an MBA in business and a mathematician!”

Terry himself has enjoyed a diverse career, studying a degree in electronics and trying different jobs from forestry to housing before settling on a career in accountancy.

“In 2001, my wife told me to pick a job and stick to it,” he laughed.  “So,at 36, I retrained as an accounting technician, then chartered accountant, and have been submitting R&D claims since 2007.”

Terry believes his life experience of working with different sectors, combined with a pragmatic approach, comes in useful today.

He said: “I am a fast thinker, with a wealth of tax, accountancy and business knowledge at my fingertips, as well as an exceptional memory and immense capacity to learn.

“My team and I excel at partnering with companies, from incubator to IP protection, and everything in between. We white label our services with progressive professionals and trade bodies who share our mission objectives.”

Helping clients

During his R&D career, Terry has helped a wide range of clients, particularly in the manufacturing industries – from a Liverpool firm which designs and manufactures pool tables to a stained glass window company which was commissioned to reverse engineer windows for Westminster Abbey. An R&D claim has helped the business to expand its glassmaking techniques to creating bomb proof glass for the airport industry.

But what qualifies as R&D expenditure? Companies need to show that they’re solving problems, making improvements to processes and overcoming technological/scientific uncertainties to be eligible for the relief.

Terry revealed: “We have recently worked with a company which manufactures spare parts for production lines in the two piece can industry. The owner is a sector expert, very thinly stretched, and is trying to automate as much as possible.

“His son is studying neuroscience and was not initially interested in entering the family business so I asked him if he could give some thought to the company commissioning his thesis to explore the world of AI and thought controlled robotics.

“This synergy has immediate appeal across the generations and will add to the longevity of this family run UK design and manufacture business.”

Companies need to show that they’re solving problems, making improvements to processes and overcoming technological/scientific uncertainties to be eligible for tax relief / Picture: Getty/iStock


Big savings

Haines Watts R&D NW recently secured a six-figure sum in tax relief for one business, with its biggest claim of £1.3 million tax savings.

“In the last nine months of trading, we’ve secured average tax savings of £57,000 for companies or £114,000 for two years back to back -– who doesn’t need that?

“It’s a real game changer – providing much-needed cash for businesses, which helps to generate jobs, innovate, grow and take the risk out of business decisions – they can start to work towards their ‘Holy Grail’ projects.”

He added: “And the good news is that R&D claims can be made retrospectively.  You can file a retrospective claim for any R&D activity carried out in the last two years.

“Even failed attempts to improve products or processes can still count as R&D qualifying expenditure.”

On a mission to educate businesses on this valuable source of funding, Terry travels throughout the North West sharing his extensive knowledge of R&D Tax Relief at seminars and as a guest speaker.

Terry concluded: “As an associate partner, I am now a business owner which means I understand the challenges businesses face only too well.

“I’m always happy to talk one to one and to your wider audience as guest speaker. Our expertise and your innovation – now that’s a winning combination!”