Major overhaul of R&D tax credit reporting is critical to UK’s economic recovery


HMRC has this week published data showing the number of companies claiming Research and Development (R&D) tax credits and the cost to the Exchequer of providing that support.

But in a world focused on the now, this publication has underlined the woeful inadequacy of the figures, according to Jenny Tragner, director at R&D tax credit consultancy ForrestBrown and member of HMRC’s R&D Consultative Committee.

“We’re in the middle of the biggest public health and economic crisis of our generation,” Tragner comments. “R&D will quite literally be the solution to the pandemic, everything from helping businesses to reopen safely to the vaccine itself. And we know from harsh lessons learned during the previous recession that protecting private sector investment in R&D will also be critical to economic recovery. This annual survey should be giving us valuable insight into the state of business R&D in the UK, but it simply fails to do so.”

On reading the 25-page report and accompanying data tables, Tragner said, “While these figures are interesting for those in the R&D tax industry, they actually reveal very little real insight. Despite these figures covering the 2018-19 tax year, the most recent complete data comes from 2017-18. If we

Anger After Indian Police Cremate Gang-rape Victim


Indian police were accused Wednesday of cremating the body of a teenaged “untouchable” Dalit woman against her family’s wishes after she died following an alleged gang-rape by four upper-caste men — the latest sexual assault to shock the country.

The 19-year-old from India’s marginalised Dalit community was left paralysed following a brutal attack two weeks ago in fields outside a village in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

She was found lying in a pool of blood after going missing while collect fodder outside her home village of Bool Gahri.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was later taken to hospital in New Delhi, around 200 kilometres (120 miles) away, but died Tuesday from her injuries.

The assault comes months after four men were hanged for the brutal 2012 gang rape and murder of a student on a bus in Delhi, a case that came to symbolise the nation’s problems with sexual violence.

The latest attack sparked anger that was further fuelled Wednesday after the woman’s family accused police of cremating her body in the dead of night — against their wishes and religious custom — raising doubts about their commitment to a proper investigation.

“I wasn’t

Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Dies In US Hospital At 91


Kuwait’s emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, architect of the nation’s modern foreign policy and mediator in some of the worst crises to grip the Gulf, died on Tuesday at the age of 91.

The government quickly named his half-brother, 83-year-old Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, as his successor.

Sheikh Sabah had earned a reputation as a shrewd, unshakeable leader who helped steer his country through the 1990 Iraqi invasion, crashes in global oil markets and upheavals in parliament and on the streets.

“With great sadness and sorrow, we mourn… the death of Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber Al-Sabah,” Sheikh Ali Jarrah Al-Sabah, minister in charge of royal affairs, announced in a televised statement.

The government declared a 40-day period of national mourning.

The United Nations described the late emir as a “distinguished statesman and an outstanding humanitarian” as it led tributes which came from across the Middle East’s political divides.

“Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed earned international recognition for his wisdom, generosity and achievements in state-building and preventive diplomacy,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s spokesman said in a statement.

He had made “a personal contribution to regional stability and humanitarian assistance which will long be remembered”, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.


Wildfires Rip Through California Wine Country, Thousands Flee


Thousands of people were forced to flee their homes in California’s Napa Valley on Monday as wildfires fanned by fierce winds ripped through the region’s world-famous wine country.

Under an opaque orange sky and a sweltering new heatwave, vineyards were consumed and houses devastated by the blaze that erupted at a “dangerous rate of spread” through 11,000 acres (4,500 hectares) by Monday, Cal Fire said.

Celebrated Napa wineries have already gone up in smoke, such as Chateau Boswell and part of Castello di Amorosa, while other vineyards like Merus Wines and Davis Estates were under imminent threat from the fast-moving flames, according to local reports.

“We saved the winery last night, but everything else was lost,” Tuck Beckstoffer, president of a 20-acre vineyard near St Helena, told Wine Spectator magazine on Monday.

Calistoga, a picturesque community at the top of the Napa Valley known for hot springs and as a launchpad for wine tours, has largely been evacuated.

CeeBee Thompson spent sleepless hours watching flames in the distance and packing her car, as the nearby town’s recently installed warning sirens sounded twice during the night.

Fire fighters intervene as a home bursts into flames on the edge of Santa Rosa,

Exit Polls See Romania’s Social Democrats Lose Control Of Bucharest


Romania’s deeply-entrenched Social Democrats lost control of capital Bucharest in local elections Sunday, exit polls showed, as mask-clad voters chose mayors and local councillors nationwide in the first electoral test after years of political turbulence.

Held amid a surge in new coronavirus cases in the east European country of almost 19 million, the vote for some 43,000 seats is seen as bellwether for national polls in December.

The Social Democrats (PSD) have held the capital since 2008, but exit polls by local TV stations showed challenger Nicusor Dan took more than 47 percent of the vote, a comfortable lead over incumbent mayor Gabriela Firea’s 39 percent.

The mathematician and former social activist, who lost to Firea four years ago, is backed by his USR-PLUS party, but also by the currently ruling and more influential National Liberal Party (PNL).

PSD was unseated nationally last year in a parliamentary no-confidence vote after attempts to push through controversial justice reforms, despite warnings from Brussels, saw massive street protests.

Even so, the party, which has dominated the political landscape since the end of communism 30 years ago, maintains a strong presence in the countryside.

It relies on a disciplined electorate, often at the beck-and-call

Paris Cleaver Attack Suspect Says Wanted To Target Charlie Hebdo


A Pakistan-born teenager has admitted to stabbing two people with a meat cleaver outside the former Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine, investigators said Saturday, with nine people now detained over what the government condemned as “Islamist terrorism”.

The 18-year-old, named by investigators as Hassan A. said he wanted to avenge the republication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed by the satirical weekly, which in January 2015 was targeted in a massacre carried out by Islamist gunmen.

The attack on Friday came three weeks into a trial in Paris of suspected accomplices in the January 2015 attacks on Charlie Hebdo, a policewoman and a Jewish supermarket that left 17 people dead.

A source close to the investigation told AFP that “everything points to (the suspect) acting alone”, adding that he was not flagged for suspected radicalisation, speaks a little French and had planned to start training as a builder.

But eight other people are now also under arrest following two more detentions Saturday.

The two new individuals arrested were the suspect’s younger brother and another acquaintance, a judicial source said.

A., who said he was born in the Pakistani city of Mandi Bahauddin and is 18-years-old, “takes responsibility for his

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