CEO Update | Monday 8 April 2019
With impeccable timing, we’ve got our next members’ Brexit webinar this Friday – the day of the next possible Brexit no-deal deadline. I expect that lots will change between now and then; we'll update you on what it all means for our sector. Wish us luck! The Conservative/Labour Brexit talks continue today, in the run up to the European Council on Wednesday. There, European leaders will discuss the Prime Minister’s request for an Article 50 extension to 30 June – which requires the agreement of all 27 EU members. At the same time the UK Parliament ‘taking back control’ continues, with Yvette Cooper’s European Union (Withdrawal) (No 5) Bill in the House of Lords today and returning to the House of Commons later this week.
The Government’s Medicines Supply Contingency Planning Programme continues in preparation for a potential no-deal, which could possibly still happen this Friday. We are sharing all the updates we have from government on our Brexit microsite here. It is worth keeping up to date as extensive (and sometimes repetitious) communication from government continues on no-deal planning. This Wednesday and Thursday, DHSC will be holding webinars on the latest progress and will update on customs and border processes. DHSC has contacted the companies that are part of the programme, but if you haven’t been contacted and want to participate, the email address for the contingency programme is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Through all the political uncertainty BIA will continue to advocate our key policy asks to all Parties. We also continue to engage in the Contingency Planning Programme work to represent the views of members. Members attending Tuesday’s Brexit Lead network will be able to provide feedback to Steve Oldfield, who leads the Programme. They will also be able to engage with the Department for Exiting the EU and the Home Office. If you haven’t yet registered for the Lead Network (which is Tuesday morning in central London) and want to attend please contact BIA Brexit Lead Laura Collister today.
We will try to provide some clarity, brevity and insight for companies on Brexit on our webinar this Friday, you can register here. Another opportunity for Brexit information for companies in the Oxford area will be an Office for Life Sciences-hosted roundtable in the week after Easter. The event is being organised by the Oxford LEP. If you would like to attend please contact BIA Brexit Lead, Laura Collister.
Taking a longer view and away from Brexit, many of us worry about our pensions, but here at the BIA we are also concerned about whether they are supporting our sector as much as they could. I had a really positive meeting with the Group Chief Executive of Britain’s largest pensions provider, Legal & General, last week to discuss how we can work together to increase pension savers’ stake in the UK’s innovative and growing biotech sector. We have also responded to the Department for Work and Pensions’ consultation on creating incentives for defined contribution schemes to investment in illiquid assets like biotech. I think there is real opportunity to unlock investment for our sector with this work, expect more from me on this throughout 2019.
HM Treasury and HMRC have launched a consultation on changes to the SME R&D tax credit scheme. It will cap the amount of money companies can receive to 3times the amount they pay in salary and social security contributions. It is intended to prevent fraudulent claims, but we know this will inadvertently affect many members, whose business models provide much economic benefit to the UK by hiring specialist services and contractors to help deliver R+D. We are already in conversation with the Government, who are clear that they do not want to disadvantage genuine companies. Nonetheless, this is a very serious concern and we are encouraging members to respond directly to the consultation as well as provide information to the BIA to inform our submission. If you would like further information please contact BIA Head of Policy and Public Affairs, Dr. Martin Turner.
And finally we are delighted to have launched our CEO and Investor Forum, our flagship summer gathering of industry leaders for a two-day interactive experience, meeting key new companies and understanding the latest investment trends and opportunities. This year we are focusing on ensuring some of the newer investors interested in our sector, from wherever they are in the world, have the chance to participate and discover our community better. To find out more about the conference you can visit the conference site, take a look at the programme, and register.