The UK is open for business

Published by Laurence Parry on 19 January 2022

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The UK boasts the world’s fifth-largest economy and is predicted to continue to grow throughout 2022 and 2023. It is home to over 66 million people, to one of the world’s leading financial centres and Europe’s largest venture capital community, so it is perhaps not surprising that, on average, more than 600,000 new businesses are started or relocated to the UK every year.

The UK, as it looks to redefine its position on the world stage following its exit from the European Union and to rebuild its post-Covid economy, is open for business. And accountants, business and financial advisers are here to help you shape your future.

Why do international businesses choose the UK?

The UK remains the most popular European country for foreign direct investment (FDI), attracting some £56.9bn of investment in 2018. Whilst that will have understandably fallen in 2020 due to the global pandemic, the post-Covid picture is encouraging and for good reason.

The UK offers businesses a world-class legal and regulatory system and a leading financial services environment needed to support growth. It is also home to a strong and forward-thinking advisory community.

It is easy to establish a business in the UK, taking, on average, just four days yet can be achieved in as little as 24 hours. Businesses are attracted by the flexibility of company structures, low regulatory burdens, and the UK’s competitive tax regime.

For many founders, the quality of the UK’s education system, its universities, and its cultural pull, together with a highly educated workforce, a time zone that reaches across the globe and its proximity to Europe are all important factors.

The UK government works hard to ensure the UK remains competitive on the world stage, offering incentives and grants for businesses looking to grow and expand internationally. The dedicated grants and funding team at Kreston Reeves is on hand to help.

A new visa programme is in place designed to encourage exceptional talent to relocate to the UK, with visa decisions often given in as little as 15 days. Visa routes are also available for business leaders in certain industry sectors, technology being one example, making it easier for founders and their families to establish a UK footprint.

London and the South East

The UK government is proactively encouraging international businesses to relocate across the UK regions, yet it is London and the South East that continue to have the strongest pull for international businesses.

Alongside its renowned financial centre, London is home to Europe’s largest tech hub, TechCity, with a mix of global technology giants and a community of more than 375,000 developers. Venture capital investment into the technology sector reached £7.9bn in 2018, with IPOs and mergers raising over £49bn.

The South East is home to thriving life sciences, high-value manufacturers, aerospace and IT clusters, naming just a few, attracted by first-class infrastructure, high quality of living and a ready pool of 21m people.

Kreston Reeves, with a footprint across London and the South East, is perfectly placed to help relocating businesses find the ideal location.

Competitive tax and regulatory environment

The UK Government has announced its intention to increase Corporation Tax rates from the current 19% to 25% from April 2023. Despite this increase, the UK continues to offer businesses a competitive and relatively low rate when compared to other G20 nations.

There are generous tax reliefs on research and development, with Patent Box effectively lowering corporate tax to just 10% on qualifying patented innovations. R&D tax credits can offer up to 230% on allowable research and development for small businesses, and the research and development expenditure credit offers 13% on allowable costs for large businesses.

Individuals looking to relocate to the UK can also benefit from significant tax reliefs through the non-domicile regime, with additional reliefs available for those seconded to the UK, and also apportionment of taxable income if their work is outside of the UK.

Sector strengths

London and the South East offers real strength and depth across many industry sectors that reflect the expertise at Kreston Reeves.

London is home to world-class financial services and technology businesses, with the city ranked as the most connected place for tech after Silicon Valley. It also boasts a creative industries sector that is valued at over £101bn, with TV and film production companies attracted to the expertise offered. The gaming sector is recognised as a global leader.

UK Healthcare and life sciences continue to lead the world. London and the South East are home to both the largest pharmaceutical businesses and to entrepreneurial biotechnology businesses. The opportunity to partner with the NHS continues to remain a strong pull.

Francisco Bracamonte is a Partner of Kreston BSG Mexico, a member firm of Kreston Global, an international advisory and accountancy network, for which Kreston Reeves is also a member. Find out more here.

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