sbh negotiates £2m rates savings for GEFCO UK
Distribution and industrial property specialist sbh has successfully concluded an agreement with the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) that will save its client GEFCO UK over £2m in rates over the next five years. The decision follows extensive negotiations by the sbh team over the past two years, at the same time as UK Ports were disputing the attempt by the VOA to backdate rate demands to 2005, which could have cost the industry up to £175m.
GEFCO, a major global logistics company, uses land at Sheerness Docks for vehicle storage prior to export through the port. The VOA notice issued back in 2008 attempted to treat the various users within the port zone as being in paramount occupation of separate rating units, reflecting the previous government’s decision to introduce conventional market valuation instead of a different basis known as prescriptive rating.
The outcome saw GEFCO faced with a new rateable value of £1.825m and a certificate of rateable value for transitional purposes of £1.475m. In simple language this meant that the company received an additional rates bill of £2.826m for the period April 2005 to October 2008.
sbh lodged an initial appeal against both assessments, which led the VOA to reduce the liability by £431,000. However following further lengthy negotiations, the sbh team managed to achieve a final settlement that reduced GEFCO’s backdated rates liability to £2.238m instead of some £3.3m, saving the client a total of £828,432.
A further appeal by sbh against the 2010 -2015 assessment of £2.19m successfully reduced the amount by 32% to £1.48m, delivering savings of around £1.19m in rates due for the period.
The negotiations carried out by sbh for GEFCO took place during a highly charged and sensitive period when the long-running dispute over backdated business rates threatened many docks with financial ruin. Following a number of high profile legal actions and political action, the coalition government finally announced it would now include provisions to cancel the rates in the Localism and De-centralisation Bill.