To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of support available for research and development companies that are defined as an undertaking in difficulty due to losses as a result to the covid-19 outbreak.
In order to be eligible for the Government’s Covid-19 debt schemes, businesses previously had to demonstrate that they were not an ‘undertaking in difficulty’ as of 31 December 2019. These requirements stem from EU state aid law.
In September 2020 the Government took advantage of increased flexibility in the Temporary Framework, allowing more businesses to gain eligibility for Government support – including the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS). The new measures allowed for the assessment to be made at the date of application for the schemes.
A total of 182,196 businesses in the Professional, Scientific and Technical Activities sector, which includes a significant proportion of R&D businesses, have received over £1.72bn worth of support through these schemes. The Recovery Loan Scheme, which launched in April 2021, enables UK businesses to access loans and other kinds of finance up to £10 million per business as they grow and recover from the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic. The scheme is open to R&D companies that are defined as an ‘undertaking in difficulty’, so long as the business is outside the scope of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
This unprecedented package of support comes in addition to £14.9 billion of investment that we have committed to research and development in 2021/22, which puts UK Government R&D spending at its highest level in four decades.