There has never been a better time for claiming R&D tax credits. I've been an R&D tax credits consultant with Terry Toms and Partners for just over five years. It's been a roller coaster. But what's changed in those five years?

HMRC have recently release their latest statistics on R&D tax credit claims: "Research and Development Tax Credits Statistics - September 2017."

Over the five year period ending on 31st March 2016, the number of claims from SMEs more than doubled up from 10,030 in 2011-12 to 21,865 in 2015-16.

This is reflected in the total value of R&D claims made by Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) which reached a record high of £1.2bn in the 2015-16 fiscal year, up from £1bn in the prior year.

What's behind the increase?

It has long been the case that many believe large numbers of eligible SME companies are not aware that they could be eligible to claim R&D tax credits. In recent years more specialist companies like RandDTax have been helping spread the word, but that's not the whole story.

HMRC has improved the level of benefit several times since 2011-12, including increasing the SME rate of claim from 75% to 130%. In real terms for a profitable company that means the value of a claim is now worth 26% of eligible R&D expenditure, up from 20% in 2011-12. This increase has contributed to the rise in the overall value of R&D tax credits claimed by SMEs.

Are you fully aware of R&D tax credits?

Whether you are an advisor to SMEs or the owner/director of an SME you need to ensure you understand how the R&D tax credit schemes work. Not having this knowledge could mean missing out on many thousands of pounds in funding that is just waiting to be claimed.