Strathconon Church Conversion was one of the projects that earned tax credits

Yvonne Simpson, business development manager at Simpson Builders, said: “We were surprised to learn that each site had a different challenge that required some element of R&D to make it work, whether it was using different products to come up with the end solution or how best to install a curved glass bespoke handrail system.”

The team was initially unfamiliar with R&D tax credits but, after making contact with the Scottish arm of UK-wide Access2Funding, it began to uncover hidden finance. Advisor Access2Funding said that R&D tax credits are still an often-untapped source of funding in the construction industry. However, it said that latest HMRC figures show a significant rise in construction businesses claiming for tax relief on innovation-focused investment, resulting in £175m claimed for 2018/2019 with the average claim at £57,000.

Simpson Builders identified aspects of R&D within all of its sites, including the Strathconon Church Conversion. It was acting as the main contractor on an old church conversion that was also a listed building and turning it into a two-bedroom church. The project came with technical challenges and Simpson Builders had to conduct a large amount of research on various elements, including the most effective way of retaining the fragile original stained glass windows, 3D scans to help with the steelwork and roof design and research into protecting and relocating the endangered bats on the site. The project required a range of specialist expertise and qualified for R&D.

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Yvonne Simpson went through the claims process with Suzy Carter and Taylor Franchetti from the company’s team in Scotland. She said: “The whole process was easy peasy! In all honestly it did sound daunting to begin with, but it was so straightforward and effortless thanks to the helpful team at Access2Funding. It was so quick too; within one month we found out how much money we were entitled to and then within six to eight weeks of beginning the process the money was in our bank. We are now working on our second claim for the last financial year!”

Simpson Builders, which specialises in civils works,, was established in 1999 with three staff on the books and now has a team of 48. It works across the Scottish Highlands on anything from renovations and extensions to new builds, with projects ranging from £10,000 to £2m.

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