The naked engineer: Clowning about

The Naked Engineer is our anonymous columnist from industry. Pulling no punches, NE provides informed critique of manufacturing policy and practice on a monthly basis.

May's Naked Engineer
May's Naked Engineer

Tip-toeing past my PA Atilla the Hun’s office one morning as I got in a little after the time sometimes unreasonably expected of an MD with higher things on his mind, I was distracted for a moment by her rather pert new recruit.

“You’re late for you meeting with Jimmy about this year’s R&D claim,” she lashed with words that sent me bounding in the direction of our FD despite my better instincts to stay and help induct the new assistant into the ways of Hemlock Engineering Group – or something.

Another year, another meeting with Jimmy the Greek to try and make it as simple as possible for the Her Majesty’s Ridiculous Clowns (aka HMRC) to understand that we are worthy or receiving one of their much vaunted R&D tax credits.

At Hemlock Engineering Group we do shed loads of R&D. The egg-heads are at it all the time. And yet each year we have the ritual fight to get those congenital idiots at HMRC to muster enough neurones in one room to agree our R&D claim.

The first year we tried, some pompous, puffedup doughnut told me that in his view 90% of R&D tax claims were invalid. (‘Here to help’ their website claims!) I told him I’d make him a bloody invalid and invited him to stick his opinion where the sun don’t shine.

That didn’t entirely swing him to my point of view so I had Atilla do a bit of web-based research into the process of making R&D tax claims. What she discovered was a primary school test style explanation of just what you could and could not include in a claim – published by the clowns themselves.

“Some pompous, puffed-up doughnut told me that in his view 90% of R&D tax claims were invalid”

Annoyingly it seemed as though my comprehensive programme of research into the optimum material to manufacture poles for pole dancing clubs apparently didn’t qualify. I’ve always considered this a potential expanding market for Hemlock and have diligently been building the necessary skills to provide on-going customer satisfaction monitoring.

Some of the other stuff we have going on in our facilities however, was pretty close to the mark if you actually knew what the hell you were looking at. Or at least so I felt.

So, with this conviction in mind and Jimmy’s help to put some official looking figures into the mix, a missive was formed. Addressing the Senior Clown this carefully crafted three pager delivered a definitive lesson in SSAP’s, GAAP’s and SASS’s – the various tedious acronyms for the equally tedious financial procedures associated with making an R&D claim for the information of those lucky enough not to be initiated in such matters.

Satisfied with my days work I dropped this neatly honed epistle into the fax out tray and left in martyr-like style to play catch up with the boys at Cavendish’s our local wine bar.

Getting in nice and promptly around 10.30 the next morning I found Jimmy hyperventilating and clutching a fax outside my office. Ah, I thought. Perhaps some of my more bluntly phrased passages in the opus hadn’t been received entirely favourably.

“Look yer! They’ve gone for it,” he spluttered!

“Bugger me, really. Even my pole research?” I replied in excitement.

“Noah, I took that out see” he said. Ironically Jimmy the Greek is in fact Welsh you understand.

Damn, I thought. But on the bright side, another win for the righteous and perhaps I could get the new girl to help out with a new hands-on R&D project I had in mind.