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AstraZeneca blames UK taxes for plant snub

Sir Pascal Soriot: taxes are ‘discouraging’

Pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca has blamed Britain’s tax regime for diverting plans for a $360 million manufacturing facility from Britain to Ireland.

Chief executive Sir Pascal Soriot said the group had wanted to build the plant close to its sites in the northwest of England but switched it to Ireland because of a “discouraging” tax rate. The corporation tax rate is due to increase in April from 19% to 25%.

He said this was hampering the UK government’s ambition to become a life sciences “superpower”.

Speaking after unveiling full year results, he said: “You need an environment that gives you good returns and incentive to invest.”

His comments follow those of Tom Keith-Roach, AstraZeneca’s UK president, who warned that Britain was losing out on investment from AstraZeneca to more competitive countries.

The industry’s concerns are focused on an NHS-branded medicines sales levy. It is unhappy with the pricing agreement that caps the increase in the NHS’s budget for such treatments at 2% a year.

The formula was designed in pre-Covid days, but the surge in prescriptions that arrived with the pandemic has seen the industry pay a heftier percentage of its UK revenues to the government as a rebate.

AstraZeneca employs about 83,000 people globally, including almost 8,000 in the UK. It recently opened a £1.1 billion new global R&D centre in Cambridge.

The company announced strong results and a positive outlook for the year, which sent its shares up 490p, or 4.6%.

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