News story

Making the UK the place for space

UK Space Agency signs MOU with Ofcom and Government scraps Insurance Premium Tax for spacecraft operators.

Artist's impression of AlphaSat.
Artist's impression of AlphaSat. Credit: ESA.

As part of the Government’s aim to provide wider access to space and remove barriers to further growth of the £11.3 billion sector, the UK Space Agency has signed an agreement with Ofcom that will see the 2 organisations working more closely together to ensure the space sector’s radio spectrum needs are fully addressed in developing the UK’s spectrum strategy.

Spectrum - the basis for wireless communications like Wi-Fi or mobile phones - is a finite resource that is much in demand. In practice, that means users have to share spectrum in order to maximise its benefit. Achieving this across a diverse range of sectors and services is a significant challenge, made more so by the rapid evolution of other services using spectrum, such as mobile broadband.

The new MOU will see the UK Space Agency and Ofcom forming a CEO-level liaison group and a space spectrum advisory committee to develop a close and transparent relationship. The aim, in line with the Space Innovation and Growth Strategy 2014-30: Growth Action Plan recommendations 2.2 and 2.3, will assist in reaching consensus on difficult spectrum choices going forwards and allow stakeholders and the UK Space Agency to better communicate with Ofcom the UK space sector’s spectrum needs.

Insurance Premium Tax exemption for UK spacecraft operators

Another boost for the UK’s thriving space industry is the recent exemption from Insurance Premium Tax for UK spacecraft operators. The change came into force on 1 December 2014, exempting contracts of insurance that cover risks relating to the operation of spacecraft during launch, orbit, flight or re-entry.

Previously an insurance policy relating to spacecraft was liable to IPT at the standard rate of six per cent. After consulting with the UK space industry and receiving representation concerning the negative impact of IPT, the Government introduced the exemption. Not only will this new measure make satellite operation cheaper and more accessible to UK spacecraft operators but it will play an important role in attracting more businesses involved in the spacecraft industry to the UK. It will also bring insurance for the spacecraft industry into line with the other existing IPT exemptions for commercial aircraft and shipping, which are similarly internationally competitive.

Published 20 May 2015