Archives for category: Finance and Tax

angelsinmedcityAngels in MedCity is a partnership between MedCity, London Business Angels and Angels4LifeSciences. The programme aims to introduce new and existing business angels to investment opportunities from healthcare and life science companies. Read on to find out more about the initiative in today’s guest blog from Will West, CellCentric and Simon Kerry, Karus Therapeutics.

As highlighted at the recent BIA UK Bioscience Forum, the investment ecosystem has matured in recent years, with a wider range of different types of investor funding opportunities available to the biotech sector.  This includes the rise of Angel investment in healthcare, where we are starting to see some real success stories of life science companies that are raising significant early-stage and growth capital from UK-based high net worth individuals.

The UK government has long recognised the potential of Angel investment and has created highly attractive tax incentives, particularly through the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS), where profits can avoid Capital Gains, and if things don’t go so well, up to 70% of losses (100% in the case of SEIS) can be offset against your tax bill.

MedCity has taken the leading role in building a dedicated life-science Angel investment community through the Angels in MedCity (AiMC) initiative.  Working in partnership with London Business Angels and Angels 4 Life Sciences, six pitching events have been held at various venues in London over the last 18 months, with 37 UK-based life-science companies presenting. Around half of these have secured funding, over £10m in total. These include Desktop Genetics, StepJockey and Jellagen.

Critical to the success of AiMC has been the quality of companies that have been selected to pitch. This has been ensured by: (1) having strong competition with events typically over-subscribed 4-fold; (2) a clear screening process of companies’ plans, resources and teams; and, (3) an assessment of whether the investment needs of the company, both in the short and long term, are angel appropriate. To ensure the best opportunities are identified from wherever they might be based, pitching is open to companies from across the UK.

Importantly, AiMC has been able to reach out to Angels that are new to life-science investment. AiMC brings these new certified High Net Worths together with those experienced in biotech investment.  This has been strongly helped with investor training sessions that have been run in parallel to the pitching events themselves.  These have seen over 300 people attend.

Learning from other organisations and listening to feedback from the community, MedCity and its partners have ensured that the process is as open as possible to all participants.  This is a non-profit exercise, with a mission to minimise the burden on both companies and investors, and maximising the opportunities to both.

There used to be a view that biotech opportunities were too risky, complex or too long term for Angels.  The emergence of newer healthcare technologies, particularly in medtech, tools and services, have offset this, not requiring the capital investment or time of a classic drug discovery play.  For additional follow on funding, contrary to expectations, Angels can sit alongside other types of investor.  Angel-funded businesses have subsequently obtained VC investment (Karus Therapeutics) or even gone forward to IPO (Horizon Discovery).  Of interest will be the rise of investment platforms, such as Syndicate Room, and how these sit alongside Angels and other types of investment in biotech.

The barrier to starting a biotech company is as low as it has ever been.  Technology transfer organisations have matured, there is more inherent expertise in the community as a whole, and the Government is supportive.  The growth of the Angel sector is highly additive to this.  The next challenge is ensuring more company scale up.

The next AiMC event is on 10th November 2016.  For information on this and future events, both pitchers and punters should visit:  http://www.angelsinmedcity.org.uk/

Follow AiMC on Twitter at @AngelsInMedCity

As people come back from the ‘holidays’ the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) is checking in that you are exploring the Innovate UK funding calls currently available where ATMPs are in scope – and that you can contact the KTN for support.

These include BioMedical Catalyst (14 September deadline, up to £10 million to develop innovative ideas that will help solve healthcare challenges, our sector in scope particularly reference to ‘tailored treatments that either change the underlying disease or offer potential cures’.

Also current is the £15 million Open Competition, though cross sector this includes any technology, engineering or industrial area, including Innovate UK’s 4 priority sectors for growth- e.g. health and life sciences, total eligible project costs of £25,000 up to £1 million, deadline 7 September.

Forthcoming for 2016 is the Health and Life Sciences call, planned is the cell therapy manufacturing call (both mentioned on page 17 of Innovate UK delivery plan).

KTN are also exploring how companies might use the Global Cooperation Feasibility Studies competition – where business can apply for a share of £1.2 million to carry out short, international feasibility studies – the competition brief mentions that they will fund SMEs to support the costs for their involvement in activities such as:

  • meetings with partners in the UK or other countries
  • travel and subsistence, including travelling abroad to meet partners, attend brokerage or exhibition events and gain a better understanding of market opportunities and user/customer needs
  • due diligence work on partners and markets
  • staff time for proof of market or concept work
  • sub-contracting services (limited to up to 10% of costs)

So this might be useful if exploring a collaboration partner through attending a key event in Q1 2017, or an EU proposal?

The recent Treasury announcement makes it clear that EU H2020 opportunities are very much open to UK business – such as the SME instrument Cell technologies in medical applications and especially calls like the single stage SC1-PM-11-2016-2017 Clinical Research on regenerative medicine.

It will also be interesting to see what opportunities might come out of the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) Stakeholder Forum at end September where there is a dedicated advanced therapies discussion.

KTN continues to work alongside the National Contact Points (NCPs) for Health and the SME instrument, Innovate UK and Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) on how best to support businesses in applying for these calls. We also work closely with the Catapults key to this space.

Contact me or a colleague directly and we’ll help you to make an efficient decision on which call(s) might give you a non-diluting funding stream to drive forward your innovation, and business. We know that often this is a balance between current business strategy and precious time to develop proposals and collaborations.

Sarah Goulding and Mark Bustard

Sarah.goulding@ktn-uk.org   mark.bustard@ktn-uk.org

Our latest BIA member webinar took place earlier this month, focussing on how to raise capital while retaining control. BIA CEO Steve Bates was joined by three key biotech CEO’s who provided an overview of their experience: Darrin Disley detailed how Horizon Discovery was able to bring in different types of capital at different stages of the business; Harren Jhoti covered the potential of mergers and acquisitions following his experience at Astex Pharmaceuticals; and Neil Murray spoke about the evolution of Redx Pharma and their collaboration with the NHS. Read on to find out more…

The BIA’s recently published report, Money, momentum and maturity, provides an overview of the current financing environment in UK biotech. The report details encouraging trends in follow-on funding, venture capital activity, the strength of the R&D pipeline and rate of regulatory approvals which are promising as we look to develop the UK as the third global biotech cluster. Investors’ appetite for venture finance was stronger than ever in 2015 with £489m raised, accounting for over a third of the European total. 2015 also saw an impressive level of follow-on funding raised by biotech companies on the LSE.

With many methods available to raise capital in the industry, each guest speaker on the webinar was invited to tell their own experience, describing the route they took.

First to speak, Dr Darrin Disley of Horizon Discovery outlined his approach to attracting different types of capital at different stages of the business, aligning their funding with the growth and market of the business. Horizon Discovery has utilised a number of different funding options, including angel investors, corporate investment and venture capital. In March 2014, Horizon Discovery completed an IPO on AIM, returning money to their pre-IPO investors. More recently, the company has raised capital through a follow-on on the public markets, money which is now being invested to drive forward the growth of the company.

Taking a different approach, Dr Harren Jhoti of Astex Pharmaceuticals discussed the option of a merger or acquisition as a means to raise capital. In 2011, after dismissing the option of an IPO due to the financial climate, the company underwent a merger with SuperGen – a Nasdaq listed company. The merger represented significant capital in terms of future royalty streams and was also a company building exercise. A few years later, in 2013, Astex was acquired by Japan’s Otsuka.

Discussing the pros and cons of M&A, Harren highlighted the importance of Board composition with regards to retaining control. In the case of a small company being acquired, there is a danger of losing this control and becoming swamped or integrated into a large organisation. For Astex, the company was able to secure assurances that its name would survive the transaction and they would continue to have a significant level of operational independence. As such the company is as a wholly owned subsidiary of Otsuka but runs effectively as a small biotech company.

Finally, Dr Neil Murray of Redx Pharma detailed the benefits and challenges of raising capital through high net worth investors, the company’s primary source of capital up until its IPO last year. When dealing with this type of investment, Neil highlighted the importance of ensuring you provide enough feedback to the investors to showcase the company’s development – nothing succeeds like delivery.

Neil also spoke about the evolution of Redx Pharma and their opportunistic collaboration with the NHS, which helped to bring in just under £6M of funding.

The webinar finished with a Q&A for each of our speakers, with Steve Bates asking what people should be thinking about in the current climate. Each panellist agreed that people will continue to invest in good ideas, whatever the environment. There’s money to be had in the sector and companies should continue to reach for it!

For more details and to hear the Q&A, watch the webinar below.

If you didn’t manage to catch this Tuesday’s webinar, on raising capital in the current environment while retaining control, it’s now available to view below.

Hear from Darrin Disley on how Horizon Discovery was able to bring in different types of capital at different stages of the business; Harren Jhoti covers the potential of mergers and acquisitions following his experience at Astex Pharmaceuticals; and Neil Murray on the evolution of Redx Pharma and their collaboration with the NHS.

Do you have a video you would like the sector to see? Contact us.

Following the publication of our recent Money, momentum and maturity report, with Evaluate and the London Stock Exchange, we’ve created a round up some of the discussion on Storify – click on the image below to view the story…

Storify money momentum maturity

The BIA recently published a report, Money, Momentum and Maturity, with Evaluate and the London Stock Exchange, which indicated a drop in reported seed funding in the sector in 2015. On the blog today, BIA member Midven take a look at biotech seed investment and the important role it plays in the ecosystem.

Biotech seed investment can be a difficult space to invest but it’s the foundation of bioscience innovation, spring boarding new companies into the ecosystem. Yet biology is hugely unpredictable and despite attempts to apply models from other industries, notably software development and the rise of biology accelerators, the sector remains stubbornly risky, slow and potentially extremely costly to market.

It is not all doom and gloom. Drug development is seeing deep pocketed evergreen investors back some programmes straight out of university research and fund through to phase II. Sadly, many more companies fall outside this model. Not all drugs originate in academic groups with rich translational funding and good proof of principle data pre-spin out. Diagnostic and drug biomanufacturing often fails to raise similar levels of research funding and innovations may reach investors very early. Seed investment is crucial to overcome the ‘evidence hurdle’ and avoid funding rejection.

Different biotech companies present different risks and funding requirements over their life cycle but all face a reality in which private venture finance is principally for later stage investment. The BVCA reports that between 2012 and 2014 (latest figures available) all stage healthcare investment in the UK dropped from around 21% of the total venture investment to 9%. A recent report published by the BIA and Evaluate found a 71% increase in venture financing of healthcare 2014 vs 2013. Healthcare funding is growing slower than other technologies and the BIA headlined ‘better seed financing required’, noting that 70% of the UK biologics are phase II and later. The funding shortfall is at the start of the pipeline.

How can we spur seed investment in biotech? With appropriate investment staging and inventive investment structures. Seed investors back less developed technology and may be investing without any real opportunity for technology diligence. The seed investment is the technology diligence for the richer funds that follow or for the company management reaching out to new investors at the next round. Either way there are always key points at which a technology is better validated and more attractive to less risk-averse investors. The challenge is capital efficient funding to that point.

In drug development the risk points are well tested; there are fewer for diagnostics and they may be less clear in bio manufacturing technologies. Perversely it is easier to judge risk in the sector with the greatest technology failure rate. Greater clarity on risk points helps and the lower cost in some fields encourages different types of seed investors. Ultimately seed investment is crucial and whilst the quantum varies dramatically and what is seed to some looks like a far larger investment to others, the outcome is the same: more evidence.

What’s the reward for seed stage risk appetite? If the evidence increases valuation much of the seed stage dilution challenge is managed. Even so, for some sectors the funding requirement is so great that equity alone may never offer decent multiples. Other strategies may be mixed into the term sheet to protect against dilution such as royalties or leveraging public funding. Royalties have no impact on the subsequent investors yet are familiar to industry partners. Public financing is hugely helpful. The UK govt. provides very strong support for biosciences including a variety of grants as well as seed funds such as the Rainbow Seed Fund. Imaginatively combined these offer an extremely capital efficient way of reaching those key risk points. Innovative strategies will encourage seed investors and expand the number of de-risked bioscience companies developing better medicine.

Image 1 - Front coverToday we published a new report in partnership with Evaluate and the London Stock Exchange, Money, momentum and maturity: UK biotech financing and deals in 2015/16. In the post below, BIA CEO, Steve Bates takes a look at the key statistics and what they mean for the sector.

The biotech sector has enjoyed a remarkable surge over the past couple of years, evident across the globe. The latest data, compiled by the BIA in partnership with Evaluate and the London Stock Exchange, indicates continued momentum for the UK industry in 2015.

Whilst IPO activity may have cooled off, last year saw an unprecedented rise in follow-on funds raised on the London Stock Exchange. This was particularly evident on AIM, with almost four times the amount raised than the previous year, accounting for over 60% of the total amount raised by biotech companies on the LSE (versus 23% in 2014).

Image 4 - LSE money

Another stand out story for 2015 was the level of VC activity in the sector, with £489m raised in the UK – that’s up a staggering £166m from 2014 – helped by Immunocore’s record-breaking £205m round. The UK continues to extend its lead in Europe, accounting for over a third of total European VC funding.

A marked trend is towards larger financing rounds of fewer but perhaps better positioned businesses, as investors move away from the historical ‘drip-feed’ approach. This will enable quality UK management teams to focus on delivering value with an increased level of maturity. Although the UK and Europe as a whole still lag behind the US and its leading clusters, these are all promising trends as we look to develop the UK as the third global biotech cluster, building on its established lead in Europe.

UK VC activity with count

There are also some advantageous differentiations developing in the UK versus the US. Firstly, London has established itself as a hub for IP commercialisation businesses in recent years, providing the longer-term patient investment and support required by companies to succeed. Secondly, we’re starting to see the nascent crowdfunding sector have an increasing impact on biotech here in the UK, ahead of the US, with AIM-listed Scancell the first company to apply crowdfunding to the public markets. This is a trend to keep a closer eye on in 2016.

At the time of writing we await the result of the EU Referendum in the UK. With other global political events in play for 2016 – such as the US Presidential election – the crystal ball remains foggier than usual in terms of predicting the macro-economic and political environment, both at a national and international level, which undoubtedly has a significant impact on sector financing. That said, the first half of 2016 has seen private fundraising continuing to grab headlines, with the UK’s MISSION Therapeutics recording a £60m Series C in February led by Imperial Innovations and Woodford Patient Capital Trust. The IPO window also remains ajar even in these chillier months with Shield Therapeutics, and most recently Mereo BioPharma, successfully listing on AIM.

However what is clear is that despite signs of continued momentum and maturity in the funding of the sector, from the data for 2015 and our experience so far in 2016, there is no room for complacency. For example, the lack of reported seed capital for UK companies in 2015 raises a potential red flag and underlines the importance of effective support for early-stage companies through fit for purpose innovation policy from the government.

Image 8 - Pipeline

Given the strong R&D pipeline coming through the UK and the impressive rate of regulatory approvals, the sector is in good shape and there is great potential to build on. Ensuring that early-stage companies have access to kick-start innovation funding, such as that offered through the Biomedical Catalyst, is essential to take start-ups to a stage from where they can effectively leverage private capital.

A shared focus from government, industry and investors on how we can sustain start-up momentum, alongside scaling-up UK life science companies into the cohort of mid-tier companies the country needs to feature as a top three global cluster, is what is required in 2016 to build on current momentum – whatever the rest of the year holds.

Download the report here.

Nooman_Haque_2015_editThis month on the blog we’re focusing on financing. Today’s guest post comes from BIA member Silicon Valley Bank‘s Nooman Haque, originally posted on Medium.

Strong VC appetite points to healthy outlook

In our industry, Q1 is bookended by JP Morgan and the end of the tax year so it seems as tenuous a time as any to take stock of 2016.

According to our research, across Europe there were 46 VC-backed deals ($623m) in the first quarter, compared to 42 at this point last year ($137m USD). The increase is driven by the involvement of top tier investors with funds to deploy. Naturally we’d expect to see a cooling as these significant rounds are likely to provide sufficient runway through the year. Looking ahead, investors remain circumspect in their investment decisions but have funds to deploy. As one investor told me, “most of us have a lot of capital still to deploy, but we’re not in any particular rush, and asking prices still seem a little bullish”.

I was discussing the contrast in average deal sizes between Q1 2015 and Q1 2016 with a major European VC recently. The positive is that these large rounds are reflective of ‘US style’ deals (albeit with tranching) but the concern from this investor was a potential lack of discipline by giving management such large facilities. However, the experience from some of our clients that have received these large rounds is that capital discipline has been instilled at the early stages of a company’s formation, when they had to play with seed money; use virtual operations etc. to get to key inflection points. It’s also a great endorsement of European management teams — so often a convenient bugbear for overseas investors.

Compared to how European biotech was funded ‘in the old days’, this is a much healthier model. Far from ‘drip-feeding’, companies are forced to think innovatively and carefully about asking the right commercial questions, as well as the appropriate scientific ones, and investors rightly drive a hard bargain to get to those key inflection points, at which point companies are rewarded with the carrot of larger rounds. Capital efficiency has been proven time and time again to be a key factor (separate from the science) that distinguishes the best companies from the rest.

In the US, the pace of VC investment has matched this period last year, and this is in the absence of public market investors who have withdrawn support to a significant degree in the last two quarters. What it does mean though is that VCs are very likely to be more circumspect about the deals they do, knowing they’ll have to reserve more and be a little more ruthless about the companies they progress.

New European fundraisings were announced by Forbion and Endeavour Vision (around EUR 250m just for medtech and digital health). Add to this the Dementia Discovery Fund, Apollo Therapeutics, Imperial Innovations and other positive news I’ve heard privately from several leading European VCs on their fundraising, and the outlook for continued support of the sector remains strong. Again this is mirrored in the US where 2015 was a record year for life science VC fundraising with a total of $6.8bn raised.

The healthy VC environment is relevant to later stage financing. I hate to go on about public markets but a key requirement for such a market (and a bit of a chicken and egg situation) is a healthy supply of companies that can form a cohort and thus provide relevant pricing to inform investors. With the future supply of VC funds looking solid, and a capital efficient approach to developing companies, this mix should translate into a decent supply of companies, some of course who will transact with big pharma, but many of whom will look to raise public funds at some point.

An encouraging trend in the last quarter has been the continued involvement of US VCs in European deals. The funding from 5am, Versant, Sequoia and NSV (the last two supporting Cambridge Epigenetix’s B round) is of course recognition that there are sensible and attractive valuations available. However, these investors would not simply do a deal because of valuation — a black art at the best of times. Instead I believe it’s an endorsement of the strong science base and recognition that there are good management teams in place (which was always a convenient bugbear for non-EU investors). I don’t believe we’ll see a sudden flood of US investment here but give the funds at their disposal; the availability of strong local syndicate partners, and their increasing familiarity of investing in the EU, we can be positive that US interest will continue.

In January 2016 we forecasted seven to eight VC-backed BioPharma IPOs per quarter so at seven in Q1 we are right on target. Before we bemoan the apparent downturn in US public markets, this quarter is pretty much like Q1 2013 — a year that turned out to be a record at the time for US biotech IPOs. Personally I think if this is a return to normalcy then it’s for the better; a higher bar means for more efficient pricing, less noise and generally an environment when markets can do their job better for public, and impending public companies.

Other highlights include:

  • BioPharma IPOs continue to be early stage: 5/7 deals Pre-Clin or Phase I
  • Median $ raise was $50m, Pre money was $181m (Pre money similar to what we saw in 2015 though dollars raised slight down)
  • Indications: Rare/Orphan and Oncology had two IPOs each
  • 5/7 deals had top crossover investment in their private round — and these investors helped cover a significant portion of the IPO raise for these companies (except for Editas, which did not need insider participation)
  • We think crossover participation is critical for IPOs in 2016 — there already is a strong pipeline of at least six crossover backed companies that are in the queue — hopefully a number of these will get out in Q2

This is Innovate UK’s 3rd installment of the essential selection business tips and advice series. This video covers tips for start-ups who are just starting out. Whether a start-up, small business or SME there may be useful advice that you haven’t considered.

The video outlines and explains the most important factors for a business when just starting up, and includes actionable advice supported by comments from industry experts and investors.

Check out Innovate UK’s essential guide to securing funding here.

Do you have a video you would like the sector to see? Contact us.

Budget2016 pic

Today’s Budget Statement fell at an unwelcome time for the Chancellor. Between global economic headwinds and turmoil closer to home within the Conservative party as the UK heads towards the poll boxes on Europe in June, the pressure was on for the Chancellor to deliver a solid performance.

As expected, the overall tone of the Budget continued that set at last July’s Budget and reinforced again in November at the Autumn Statement to evolve the UK to a higher wage, lower tax and lower welfare economy.

This was a Budget with few giveaways, unsurprising given that the Chancellor today revised down the UK’s growth forecast over the course of the next Parliament. As a consequence of this he also announced that a further £3.5 billion of savings from public spending in 2019/20 would have to be found, though there was no detail today on how that would be achieved.

Read on for the key announcements of relevance to the UK’s bioscience sector.

You can access the full documentation associated with Budget 2016 here.

Tax, business and enterprise

The Chancellor was keen to emphasise the government’s commitment to the “enterprise and innovation by British businesses which will deliver growth and opportunity for the next generation”.

Publishing the business tax roadmap alongside the Budget, key announcements include:

  • Further to previous announcements that corporation tax would be cut to 19% in 2017 and then to 18% by 2020, today the government announced that corporation tax would be reduced to 17% in 2020.
  • The higher rate of Capital Gains Tax (CGT) for most assets will be cut from 28% to 20%. The basic rate of CGT will be cut from 18% to 10%. There will be an 8% surcharge for gains on residential property and carried interest for fund managers. The government hope that this will mean that CGT provides an incentive to invest in companies instead of other investments such as buy-to-let property.
  • Entrepreneurs’ relief will be extended to longer term external investors in unlisted companies. This will provide a 10% rate for external investors holding shares in unlisted companies for at least three years. It will apply to newly issued shares purchased on or after 17 March 2016, provided they are held for a minimum of three years from 6 April 2016, and will be subject to a separate £10 million lifetime limit on eligible gains. The government hopes that this will provide a further incentive for longer term investment into unlisted companies, helping them to access the finance they need to grow and create jobs. The BIA called for the government to look again at how Entrepreneurs Relief could be improved. This is a welcome announcement and it will be interesting to see what behaviour it drives in practice and how “external investors” are defined in legislation.
  • The government confirmed that it will introduce legislation to reform the Patent Box in Finance Bill 2016, so that this is consistent with the nexus approach agreed at international discussions, which links benefits to the level of R&D investment undertaken. These new rules will need to take effect by 1 July 2016 and the Finance Bill will be published on 24 March 2016.
  • There are also changes on loss relief. For losses incurred on or after 1 April 2017, companies will be able to use carried forward losses against profits from other income streams or from other companies within a group.
  • The government have committed to improving business interaction with HMRC. Today the government stated that it will introduce a dedicated phone line for businesses and self-employed individuals, announce plans by the end of 2016 to provide mid-sized businesses with access to a named adviser and pilot the delivery of targeted support to high-growth businesses through joint-working between HMRC and Regional Growth Hubs.

Science, health and innovation

There was not much mention of science or health today, however that is not surprisingly given the focus of the Comprehensive Spending Review and the details that continue to emerge from those announcements. It was disappointing to see a lack of mention of innovation today though we understand that focus will follow through the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)’s National Innovation Plan. Further details are expected shortly and the BIA continue to engage with BIS on this issue. Watch this space.

There were however some announcements across the UK to note including:

  • Quadrum Institute: a £50 million contribution to a new world-leading centre for food and health research at the Norwich Research Park.
  • Compound Semiconductor Catapult: an investment of up to £50 million up to 2020/21 to establish a new Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult in Wales.
  • The use of LIBOR funds to support children’s hospital charities in Manchester, Southampton, Sheffield and Birmingham.

Devolution

Unsurprisingly the issue of devolution was central to many of the Chancellor’s announcements today, including news on developments in the East of England.

The Chancellor gave mention to a new “single powerful East Anglia combined authority” in his speech and the detailed Budget documentation confirmed a mayoral devolution deal with East Anglia, covering Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, giving the local area new powers over transport, planning, skills, a £900 million investment fund over 30 years to grow the local economy, and access to £175 million ringfenced funding to deliver new homes. However, as the agreement documentation sets out, not all Councils and Local Enterprise Partnerships across these regions have to date signed up to the deal.

The Chancellor also mentioned the new £1 billion pound city deal for the Cardiff region, a new West of England mayoral authority, a new deal for Greater Lincolnshire and further infrastructure investments in the Northern Powerhouse.

Skills and Apprenticeships

The previously announced Apprenticeships Levy was again referenced today, confirming that further details on the operating model will be published in April and draft funding rates will be published in June.

Also announced today:

  • For the first time, direct government support will be available to adults wishing to study at any qualification level, from basic skills right the way up to PhD. During this Parliament, loans will be introduced for level 3 to level 6 training in further education, part-time second degrees in STEM, and postgraduate taught master’s courses.
  • From 2018-19, loans of up to £25,000 will be available to any English student without a Research Council living allowance who can win a place for doctoral study at a UK university. They will be added to any outstanding master’s loan and repaid on the same terms, but with the intention of setting a repayment rate of 9% for doctoral loans and a combined 9% repayment rate if people take out a doctoral and master’s loan. The government will launch a technical consultation on the detail in due course. Those who take out only a master’s loan will still repay at 6%, as announced at Autumn Statement 2015. The government will also extend the eligibility of master’s loans to include three-year part-time courses with no full-time equivalent.

Europe

Finally the Chancellor took the opportunity of his Budget Statement to quote the Office of Budget Responsibility on the potential impact of the UK leaving the EU, referencing their comments that “a vote to leave in the forthcoming referendum could usher in an extended period of uncertainty regarding the precise terms of the UK’s future relationship with the EU. This could have negative implications for activity via business and consumer confidence and might result in greater volatility in financial and other asset markets”.