The government provides 339 ‘non-structural’ tax reliefs, many aimed at promoting economic growth. With some costing billions of pounds in tax revenue foregone, they are an important part of the government’s economic policy.

This study will build in part on our prior work in this area, most recently our 2020 report on The management of tax expenditures. It identified a need for more accountability and transparency in the operation of these reliefs, and a lack of evaluation as to whether reliefs were achieving their policy objectives.

We will focus on a subset of reliefs aimed at promoting business investment:

  • in R&D and the creative industries
  • through capital allowances
  • by providing relief on asset disposals.

The study will examine:

  • to what extent HMRC has improved its assessment of the costs of reliefs, and whether it has proportionate and timely monitoring and evaluation of whether objectives are being achieved
  • whether HMRC has assessed and monitored the risk that reliefs are misused, and acted sufficiently quickly to respond where abuse arises
  • whether HM Treasury and HMRC have learned from experience to minimise the risk of abuse and failure, to meet objectives in an administratively efficient way.

NAO Team

Director: Andy Morrison
Audit Manager: Jeremy Gostick