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NHS to reimburse stamp duty for GPs who rent premises

GPs who rent premises from NHS Property Services will have their stamp duty reimbursed by NHS England and have the ability to break their lease if a practice loses its core contract under a new agreement.

Following protracted negotiations, which started in 2013, a new template lease has been agreed between the BMA, NHS Property Services and NHS England.

According to NHS Property Services, it can now complete the process of agreeing leases with around 1,000 undocumented GP occupiers, giving both landlord and occupier clarity on their rights and responsibilities and on the space and services used by the occupier.

Dr Brian Balmer, BMA GP executive member, said: “This is the first agreed template lease between NHS Property Services and the BMA. It has been produced after considerable negotiation and we believe it allows practices to sign up to individual leases with the confidence that they are entering into a fair and modern relationship with the landlord.

“There will of course always be local issues which need to be resolved and this agreement is not a magic bullet to every problem that arises with GP premises. The government still, for example, needs to deliver on their planned investment in GP infrastructure.”

The new agreement includes a financial package of support from NHS England for those who sign a lease before 30 November 2017. The package includes contributions to Stamp Duty Land Tax, VAT, legal costs and service charge management fees.

The agreed lease template applies standard property industry practices to the special circumstances of GPs, aligning their property commitments to the length of their core contract with their commissioner and to their expectations for reimbursable property costs.

John Westwood, director of asset management at NHS Property Services, which owns and manages about 10% of the NHS estate, including about 11% of NHS GP practices, said: “Although this formal approach is very different from what many of our GP occupiers have known in the past, we have found broad agreement on the principle of establishing rights and responsibilities through leases. GPs want to be sure that they have the facilities to provide contracted services.”

Other benefits include:

  • A clause allowing practices who lose their core contract to break their lease.
  • A requirement entitling practices that see their rents revised to equivalent reimbursement.
  • The removal of a previous clause that allowed NHS Property Services to relocate a practice.
  • Increased transparency for service charges in newly revised guidance.
  • Agreed dispute resolution procedures for all GP practices signing up to the new template.

To find out more and to access the template, click here.

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