Construction sector R&D spending surged nearly 8% in 2020 despite the pandemic

R&D spending in the construction sector defied expectations with an 8% rise last year despite the pandemic, analysis of latest ONS data by business tax relief consultancy Catax shows.

The industry spent £368m on R&D in 2020, a rise of 7.9% from the £341m invested in 2019. The increase came despite widespread disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which had led to fears that levels of innovation could suffer.

It also represents a record high. Over the past decade, R&D spending in the construction sector has grown 257.3%, up from £103m in 2010.

The ONS published its Q4 statistics for R&D spending yesterday (Wed) providing a full year picture for different industries.

The construction sector’s performance was significantly better than the performance of UK industry as a whole. Total R&D spending by UK businesses rose 5.09% to £38.4bn last year.

UK GDP in 2020 was 9.8% down on an annual basis according to the ONS2 — the worst performance since 1709.

Mark Tighe, CEO of R&D tax relief consultancy Catax, comments: “The pandemic stopped businesses in their tracks but those reliant on innovation clearly didn’t take their foot off the gas.

“The construction sector shut completely in the first lockdown but, even so, the industry still grew its R&D spending on an annual basis last year. This will put the sector on a strong footing as we recover from the impact of the pandemic.”