Coherence of UK Research & Development Statistics

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1 Information note Coherence of UK Research & Development Statistics Christopher Steer Abstract This information note examines the coherence between Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates of research and development (R&D) activity and other sources of data, including regional releases and R&D Relief (Tax Credit) data. Key methodological differences between these sources are identified and an international comparison of Frascati Manual based R&D estimates is also made. Summary The Office for National Statistics (ONS) produces estimates of annual Business Enterprise Research & Development (BERD) and Gross Expenditure on Research & Development (GERD). The Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Department for Personnel & Finance in Northern Ireland (DFPNI) publish separate regional estimates whilst the Ministry of Defence publishes Defence Statistics including R&D expenditure. These estimates use the same definition of R&D and broadly comparable methodologies. Her Majesty s Revenue & Customs provides estimates of R&D tax credit claims using a broader definition of R&D. These estimates are broadly in line with BERD current expenditure when account is taken of imperfect awareness of the tax credit schemes. Internationally, the UK spends a lower share of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on R&D than the EU27 average. The GERD/GDP ratio is currently 1.76%, below the 3% target set for the EU by the EU s growth strategy, Europe A summary of the coherence of R&D statistics is available in Table 1. Table 1: A Summary of R&D Data sources Source of Data Frascati Manual Consistent with Administrative Survey definition used UK GERD Business Enterprise R&D Gross Expenditure on R&D Northern Ireland Gross Expenditure on R&D Defence Statistics R&D Tax Relief/Credit partially R&D Scoreboard Office for National Statistics Information note 1

2 Introduction R&D is thought to be a key driver of economic growth. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) produces two suites of National Statistics on UK R&D activity; Business Enterprise Research and Development (BERD) and Gross Expenditure on Research and Development (GERD), which covers businesses plus government, higher education, and private non-profit institutions. This information is used by analysts and policy makers to understand the impact of R&D in the UK economy. What is R&D? The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Frascati Manual of Proposed Standard Practice for Surveys on Research and Experimental Development provides internationally agreed design, methods and concepts for R&D surveys. It defines R&D as: Creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications This definition is used for ONS R&D statistics and for many other R&D statistics worldwide. Its ubiquity and transparency facilitates international comparisons of R&D activity. ONS R&D Statistics ONS undertakes three annual collections of R&D data; surveying businesses, government bodies, and private non-profit organisations. Data for the higher education sector is provided by the Higher Education Funding Councils. Results from these three surveys and the higher education data together form the GERD statistics. Additionally, more detailed information is published for businesses which perform the majority of UK R&D. Business Enterprise Research & Development (BERD) The BERD survey collects intramural (within the business) and extramural (R&D purchased from outside the business) expenditure as well as employment data related to those working on R&D. The BERD sampling frame is a list of known R&D performers, which is updated annually from positive responses to R&D questions on ONS surveys, information on R&D tax credits and other sources. A sample of this reference list is sent either a long or short questionnaire. A census is made of the 400 (approximately) businesses that spent the greatest amount on R&D in the previous two years (over 3.3 million in the 2010 survey) regardless of the number of employees they have. These businesses receive a long form questionnaire requesting a breakdown of capital and non-capital expenditure on in-house R&D and the types of research undertaken. Businesses are also asked how in-house R&D expenditure for the relevant year was funded; how much R&D was purchased from outside the business and whether it was purchased in the UK or from overseas; the number of employees working on R&D and the number full-timeequivalents (FTE); the type of employees (researchers, technicians, support staff) and post codes of the locations where R&D is carried out. Businesses sent the long questionnaire are also asked to select one or more industry product group that best describes the type of R&D activities they undertake. Office for National Statistics Information note 2

3 Various sampling fractions are used to select around 3,600 other businesses to receive a short form requesting expenditure on in-house R&D; whether their R&D is for civil and/or defence purposes; how much R&D was purchased, and the number of employees working on R&D. These businesses are allocated an industry product group based upon the business Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) 1 held on the Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR) 2, which describes the type of activity the business undertakes. The BERD statistical bulletin, published annually, publishes estimates of businesses R&D expenditure in both nominal and real terms, disaggregated by product groups and by regions. The data also estimates R&D employment and the sources of funding for R&D activity. Gross Expenditure on Research & Development (GERD) The GERD bulletin, published annually in March, combines data from the BERD survey with higher education, government and private non-profit estimates to give a picture of R&D throughout the economy. The Government Expenditure on Research and Development (GovERD) survey is an annual census of all government departments R&D activities. Private non-profit organisations data has been estimated since 2004 but a new survey was carried out in 2012 to collect 2011 data. Higher Education statistics are a census of all higher education institutes provided by the Higher Education Funding Councils. The combined GERD data are released as a matrix of performing and funding sectors, illustrating the flows of funding by each sector to each performer. Funding of civil and defence by each sector is separately identified. Regional Trends Online The ONS also produces annual regional trends statistics, including expenditure on R&D by region. Sources are the same as for the ONS GERD. As the ONS BERD survey covers only Great Britain, supplementary data for Northern Ireland is required to produce UK estimates. For British regions, large businesses apportion their expenditure across workplace postcodes where R&D is carried out while smaller businesses default to the reporting postcode. Regional estimates of government R&D are produced by apportioning total government expenditure on R&D is based upon regional full-time equivalent government employment. Higher Education data is provided on a regional (NUTS2 3 ) basis by the Higher Education Funding Councils. 1 A Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) was first introduced into the UK in 1948 for use in classifying business establishments and other statistical units by the type of economic activity in which they are engaged. 2 The Inter-Departmental Business Register is a comprehensive list of UK businesses in all parts of the economy derived from traders registered for VAT, incorporated businesses at Companies House and those firms operating a Pay as You Earn (PAYE) scheme. 3 The Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS) is a standard for referencing the subdivisions of countries for statistical purposes. It is developed and regulated by the European Union, and thus only covers the member states of the EU in detail. Office for National Statistics Information note 3

4 Private non-profit data is currently estimated, although a survey was carried out in 2012 for 2011 data, so regional breakdowns are not currently available. All government, higher education and private non-profit measures contribute to the GERD aggregate published by the ONS, and so are all consistent with the output. However, greater detail may be published in regional releases. Other Government R&D Statistics Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish BERD and GERD publications Scotland Scottish BERD and GERD data are produced by the Scottish Government. Scottish BERD uses micro data from the ONS BERD survey provided via a Data Access Agreement, and therefore is consistent with the Great Britain BERD survey. Scottish BERD is combined with GovERD and regional higher education data, to produce the Scottish GERD. Estimates from the Scottish BERD publication are consistent with the regional breakdown in the ONS BERD release. However, the Scottish BERD release contains Scotland-specific data in greater detail than found in the UK BERD release. In particular, data are presented in smaller units (thousands), allowing more subtle movements to be identified, and disaggregated by local authority. The Scottish GERD release does not disaggregate data to an equivalent level as its BERD publication, but does separate Scottish contributions to higher education, business and government R&D expenditure. Specific civil and defence expenditure estimates are not provided. Wales The Welsh Government produces a separate release for Wales. The Welsh GERD publication identifies the contributions by Welsh higher education, business and government bodies to R&D expenditure. These estimates are consistent with the data presented in the ONS Regional Trends Online tables. No additional breakdowns are provided. Northern Ireland Data on R&D activity in Northern Ireland are published separately by Department for Finance & Personnel in Northern Ireland (DFPNI), from surveys of business and private non-profit firms, conducted by Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA). The Northern Ireland methodology is essentially comparable with the ONS methodologies (DFPNI, 2012:5). Government data is collected through the ONS GovERD survey and higher education data is provided by the Department for Education and Learning in Northern Ireland (DELNI). Data collected for Northern Ireland by DFPNI is supplied to the ONS to compile UK GERD and BERD estimates. The data are consistent with the Northern Ireland regional data in the BERD release and ONS Regional Trends. R&D tax credit data is presented alongside the Northern Ireland R&D release, but is published separately by Her Majesty s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for other areas of the UK. Uniquely, respondents are asked if R&D projects undertaken were joint ventures. This question is not asked elsewhere in the UK. Office for National Statistics Information note 4

5 Comparison Table 2 compares real GERD expenditure by each country in the UK. These figures have been deflated using the GDP deflator to constant prices of Table 2: A Comparison of Regional GERD Expenditure million, 2010 prices % Growth Country ( ) England 20,712 20,600 21,944 22,194 23,524 23,349 22,911 22, % Wales % Scotland 1,596 1,576 1,709 1,674 1,875 1,864 1,967 1, % Northern Ireland % Source: ONS Regional Trends Table 2 shows that 88.6% of UK R&D expenditure is conducted in England. Since 2003, estimates of gross R&D expenditure have increased in all regions except Wales which has experienced a modest fall in total R&D expenditure driven primarily by declining government R&D. Northern Ireland experienced substantial growth in R&D expenditure driven by increases in higher education and business R&D. The majority of Wales and Scotland s R&D activity is conducted by higher education bodies, whereas in England most R&D activity is conducted by business enterprises. In summary, the country specific publications of R&D statistics are consistent with the UK GERD and BERD releases, offering additional breakdowns. Aside from the Northern Ireland data, figures are obtained from the ONS surveys. These separate publications serve as indirect channels for disseminating this collected data. Defence R&D Statistics The Defence Analytical Services Agency (DASA) conducts an annual survey that collects R&D expenditure from all Ministry of Defence (MOD) departments. The survey applies the Frascati Manual definition of R&D and is used by MOD to complete the ONS GovERD questionnaire. As such intramural research and development expenditure in the DASA release is equal to intramural defence expenditure reported in the latest GERD release. The MOD also publishes estimates based on this data as part of their UK Defence Statistics. This publication provides more detail by separating intramural and extramural spending on research, from spending on development. UK Defence Statistics are published around six months later than the GERD statistics. Therefore, users requiring more timely estimates are advised to use the corresponding GERD data. Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) Statistics The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) publishes an annual summary of key science, engineering and technology indicators. This covers research councils, higher education funding councils and government departments and is obtained from the GovERD survey, using the Office for National Statistics Information note 5

6 Frascati Manual definition of R&D. Data is presented by government department and research council. This publication documents net government expenditure by each department (that is, any expenditure made on R&D minus any external funding for R&D received) including expenditure outside of the UK whereas the GERD publication includes only government expenditure made within the UK. Figures for net defence R&D by government departments, in current prices, are consistent with the reported figures in the Defence Statistics and GERD publications. In addition, the net expenditure of the Higher Education Funding Councils is also consistent with the GERD publication. The SET publication also provides government funded net R&D spending by socio-economic objective which shows that the majority (81%) of government funded R&D is spent on health, defence or the general advancement of knowledge. Research & Development R&D Relief (Tax Credit) Statistics R&D tax credits were introduced in 2000 for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and were extended to large companies in 2002 to encourage R&D spending. To qualify for these tax credits, R&D expenditure must seek to achieve an advance in overall knowledge or capability in a field of science or technology through the resolution of scientific or technological uncertainty and not simply an advance in [the business ] own state of knowledge or capability (HMRC 2012b). This is a much broader than the Frascati Manual definition as it includes testing stages and trials which would be excluded under the OECD s definition. Tax Credit Schemes Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are defined by the European Commission as firms with fewer than 250 employees and annual turnover of 50 million or a balance sheet of 43 million. For R&D tax credit purposes, Her Majesty s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) use a more liberal definition of SMEs. They define an SME as a company with fewer than 500 employees and a turnover below 100 million or a balance sheet not exceeding 86 million. SMEs are able to reduce their taxable income by 200% of their qualifying expenditure (or 100% in the event of a loss) before the application of corporation tax. Large companies can claim tax relief of 130% of their qualifying costs. Companies must spend at least 10,000 a year on R&D to qualify and there is a limit on funding by tax credits of 7.5 million per project with credits only given if the company is a going concern. Where this relief exceeds the tax bill for any period, credit may be received or it may be carried forward to future years. Qualifying expenditure on R&D includes wages and salaries (based on Full Time Equivalents working on R&D), materials (excluding telecommunications and data but including utilities), and software. Expenditure on contractors or agency staff is not included, nor is most capital expenditure, though some capital costs may be reclaimed: e.g. the purchase of a research laboratory. HMRC release annual National Statistics, derived from companies submitted tax return forms and as such represents a census of all businesses in receipt of tax credits. These document the number of tax claims and their cost to the Exchequer. The amounts spent on R&D used to claim these tax credits are imputed from these returns. Data are presented by financial year (rather than Office for National Statistics Information note 6

7 Coherence of UK Research & Development Statistics calendar year). R&D tax credits and BERD expendituree data are expected to be correlated, as tax credits are designed to encourage greater R&D spending (HMRC 2012a:2). Data from HMRC s Research and Development Tax Credit Statistics 2012 publication shows that, over the last eight years since the large company scheme was introduced; there has been strong growth in both the number of claims and the value of these claims. This has been driven primarily through strong growth in the large company scheme. The large company scheme constitutes the bulk of tax credit support ( 750 million versus the 330 million claimed by small businesses in 2010/2011) despite the less favourable terms offered. The volume of claims under the large company scheme, however, is less than the volume under the SME scheme. Over the period measured, the volume and value of total R& &D tax credit claims has increased alongside an increase in BERD expenditure. Figure 1: Comparison of BERD Current Expenditure and R&D tax credit support (in current prices) Source: HMRC Research & Development Tax Credit Statistics (2012a) Figure 1 compares the total R&D spend attributed to these tax credit claims with the corresponding current expenditure data reported in the BERD survey. In general R&D tax credits apply to current expenditures, though there are exceptions for some capital expenditures. As such BERD current expenditure is a good estimate of this expenditure type for R&D activity, though it excludes software expenditure which is classed as capital in BERD. R&D tax credit and BERD data follow a similar trend. However, this does not imply causality; an increase in tax credits may be observed without a corresponding increase in R&D expenditure or even alongside a decrease in R& &D expenditure. Office for National Statistics Informationn note 7

8 Coherence of UK Research & Development Statistics HMRC Analysis Figure 1 also shows that the expenditure used to claim tax credits has increased as a proportion of total current expenditure on R&D from 33% in 2002 to 71% in HMRC suggest thatt a lack of awarenesss of the tax credits schemes, particularly in the years following introduction of the scheme, might explain the initial modest growth in claims and subsequent accelerated growth claims in later years. HMRC note that it was not uncommon for companies to learn about R&D tax credits only when they appointed new accountants (HMRC 2009:7). Further, they suggest that some of the increase may be due to large claimants underestimating their claimable expenditure in the early years of the scheme. The analysis also found that the availability of R&D tax credits had little effect on decisions to undertake specific R& &D projects and that the time lag between expenditure and receiving the credits may contribute to this effect (HMRC 2009:7). In the long run, it is expected that confidence might grow in the availability of tax credits as a source of funding for future projects, leading to an increase in R&D, particularly projects with a high risk (HMRC 2009:7). A regional breakdown of R&D tax credit dataa is also published. However, care must be taken when interpreting these dataa as tax credits are attributed to the region containing the company s registered address; this may be different from where the R&D activity is actually undertaken. Figure 2: Comparison of shares of R& &D Tax Credits and BERD Current Expendituree by Region (2010) Source: ONS BERD (2011) & HMRC R&D Tax Credit Statistics (2012a) Figure 2 shows that the regional distribution of the tax credits claimed is broadly comparable to the regional breakdown of the BERD data. London and the South East account for a greater share of the total R& &D tax credits claimed than their share of the BERD expenditure, but this is to be Office for National Statistics Informationn note 8

9 Coherence of UK Research & Development Statistics expected as tax credit data is attributed to the company s registered address, rather than allocated across the postcodes of where the R&D is performed as is done with BERD data. As headquarters are often based in London or the South East, a disproportionate amount of R&D tax credits are attributed to these areas. Scotland, the North East and Wales show similar percentagee shares of BERD expenditure and Tax Credits. BIS R&D Scoreboard Until 2010, the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) collated a separate set of business R&D expenditure dataa published as the R& &D scoreboard. This release was compiled from the company accounts of the 1,000 UK businesses spending the most on R&D, including R&D activity conducted overseass by British companies. These businesses were identified from an extensive database maintained by Company Reporting (Bespokee Databases) Ltd. As these dataa were from company accounts, the definitionn of R&D was wider than the Frascati Manual definitionn employed by official measures of R&D expenditure and, as such, the comparability between thesee series is limited. R&D expenditure in 2009, as measured by the BERD survey, was 15.5bn while the scoreboard showss expenditure of 25.3bn. Varying sample sizes and exchange rates also limit comparability over time. These were not certified National Statistics. International Comparisons Europe 2020, the European Union s growth strategy for , setss a target of achieving 3% of the EU s GDP invested in R&D annually. Independent of this, many member states have set individual GERD/GDP targets to reflect their own circumstances. The UK currently has no targett set for R& D expenditure as a share of GDP. The OECD Main Science and Technology Indicators (MSTI) publication collates international estimates of R&D performance for comparison. Figure 3 compares the GERD to GDP ratios of several OECD, using the most recent estimates provided in the MSTI publication. Figure 3: Gross Domestic Expenditure on Research & Development as a share of Gross Domestic Product OECD Total Source: OECD: Main Science & Technology Indicators (2012/1) Office for National Statistics Informationn note 9

10 Coherence of UK Research & Development Statistics The data shows that the UK spends a lower proportion of its GDP on R&D than the EU and OECD averages. It also shows that few European countries are currently meeting the 3% targett set by the Europe strategy. Figure 4 compares selected EU members GERD/GDP ratios between 2006 and 2010, showing they have remained broadly stable over this period. The UK GERD/GDP ratio has been broadly similar to EU27 average but below that of other large European economies such as France and Germany. Japan (not shown) spends a large proportion of its GDP on R&D, averaging a GERD/GDP ratio of 3.4% between 2006 and Figure 4: Gross Domestic Expenditure on R&D (GERD) as a percentage of GDP Source: OECD Main Science & Technology Indicators (2012/1) Effects from the global financial crisis are not discernable within this chart as R&D spending is likely to have fallen alongside GDP. As R&D is often a long-term investment, companies are likely to base their investments on a longer horizon, anticipating future growth justifying continued R&D expenditure. Progress towards the EU s target of 3% of GDP by 2020 has been limited. The averagee percentagee share of GDP that EU member states spent on R&D was 1.91% in 2010, up from 1.77% in A considerable increase in R&D spending is needed in all countries if this target is to be achieved. Figure 5 compares GDP per capita with GERD per capita adjusted for purchasing power parity, in 2009 US dollars. Those countries above the trend line spend a greater proportion of their GDP per capita on R&D than the average country of an equivalent GDP per capita. Office for National Statistics Informationn note 10

11 Figure 5: Comparison of GDP per capita and GERD per capita (2009) Source: OECD Main Science & Technology Indicators (2012/1) The graph shows that countries such as Finland, the United States, and Israel spend more on R&D per person than average, given their GDP per capita. The United Kingdom spends $ per person on R&D, more than the EU27 average of $ per person but from a smaller overall GDP per capita. Consequently, the EU27 spend more closely matches the expected levels of GERD spend per capita than the UK s spend. Conclusion The ONS BERD and GERD statistics are consistent with most other National Statistics relating to Research and Development available from other departments. They use the same Frascati Manual survey definition of R&D and employ comparable methodologies. Data for Northern Ireland is included in the ONS GERD and BERD releases, while MoD Defence Statistics are used in the GERD survey. Regional estimates for the Scottish BERD and GERD releases are derived from micro data supplied under agreement to the Scottish Government to allow them to calculate their respective estimates. BERD estimates were also compared to tax credits statistics. Despite the definition of R&D used by the tax credit system being broader than the Frascati Manual definition, BERD current expenditure and the expenditure used to claim tax credits follow a similar trend. Where R&D expenditure used to claim tax credits has grown faster than BERD current expenditure explanations, including an increasing awareness of the tax credit schemes, have been suggested. The UK s GERD/GDP ratio is slightly lower than the EU27 and OECD averages, and below those of France, Germany and the United States. In per capita terms, the UK spends less on R&D relative to total GDP per person than the EU27 average. Office for National Statistics Information note 11

12 References BIS (2010) R&D Scoreboard 2010 available at oard/ Defence Analytical Service Agency (2011) UK Defence Statistics 2011 [online] available at Department for Finance & Personnel in Northern Ireland (2011) Northern Ireland Research & Development Statistics 2010 [online] available at Department for Finance & Personnel in Northern Ireland (2012) Northern Ireland Research & Development Quality Report available at HMRC (2009) An Evaluation of Research and Development Tax Credits [online] available at HMRC (2012a) Research and Development Tax Credit Statistics [online] available at HMRC (2012b) Research and Development (R&D) Relief for Corporation Tax [online] available at OECD (2002) Frascati Manual, Paris: OECD Publications. OECD (2012), Main Science & Technology Indicators Volume 2012 Issue 1, OECD Publishing. ONS (2011) Business Enterprise Research & Development 2010 [online] available at ONS (2012) Gross Expenditure on Research & Development 2010 [online] available at Regional Trends Online (2012) Region and Country Profiles - Economy, May 2012 [online] available at Scottish Government (2012) Business Enterprise Research & Development 2010 [online] available at Welsh Government (2012) Business Expenditure on Research & Development 2010 [online] available at Office for National Statistics Information note 12

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