It's not often that unions and managers agree on something, but that was exactly what the Chancellor found last weekend when he received a joint submission from the Confederation of British Industry and the Trades Union Congress.
The submission calls for the government's small business tax credit for research and development (R&D) to be extended to all businesses.
Currently, the tax break is only available to firms that fit the European idea of a small or medium sized business, broadly defined as having a total of 250 staff or £12m in assets.
"Big companies don't get it, and they're a bit miffed," said Andrew Bell, a tax partner at accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
And they are likely to get what they want. Brown mentioned the idea in his pre-Budget statement in November, and is widely expected to discuss draft plans in the Budget itself, before consulting on their implementation.
PwC said that a US-style R&D tax break, where companies are given a tax credit of 10 per cent of the value of such spending, would initially cost the country about £230m a year, about 1.3 per cent of the £18bn tax surplus that Brown holds in his capacious back pocket.
The lion's share, £104m, would go to the UK's world-class pharmaceutical industry, which includes GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca.
Electronic and electrical industries would get £18m, with software and IT services gaining about £14m, although the UK's technology vendors could hope to gain something from all sectors' enlarged R&D spend, an activity which increasingly depends on IT.
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