Wylie & Bisset warns clock is ticking on deadline for GP sustainability loan scheme applications



Laura Fagan

Glasgow-based chartered accountants Wylie & Bisset has issued a timely reminder that the clock is ticking on the deadline for the first applications to the GP sustainability loan scheme.

GPs in Scotland are being encouraged to apply for an interest-free secured premises loan of up to 20 per cent of the existing use value of premises as a scheme outlined in the new GP contract, which came into force in April. The deadline for the first tranche of applications is 12th December.

The Scottish Government has committed to providing an additional £30m by 2021 to fund the scheme, the rationale of which is to make GP partnerships more attractive and take pressure off GPs left with responsibility for premises when partners retire or leave.

Laura Fagan, head of healthcare at Wylie & Bisset, said: “This scheme is widely regarded as a major benefit of the new GP contract for practices that own their own premises. These loans should reduce the financial burden new partners must take on to buy into partnership and, in the longer-term, lead to a system where GPs are no longer expected to provide their own premises.

“However, some of my GP clients feel there remain a number of unanswered questions and that the scheme seems ‘too good to be true’. Most practices are surprised at the existing use valuation they have been given, though I have advised that this is a valuation for sustainability loan purposes only. Some practices who own their premises outright do not intend to apply for the loan. 

“Decisions will be made on which practices will receive the first tranche of funding by the end of February 2019 and we expect to see the first loans being made before 31st March 2019.

“Given that applicants are under no obligation to sign any loan offer, my advice to practices interested in this loan is therefore to proceed with the application process and, once a loan offer is made, take professional advice, including legal, accounting and tax advice, on whether to accept the loan when the terms and conditions will be available for scrutiny.”

Successful applicants will be determined by health boards according to need, but further opportunities to access a loan will open in 2019. The scheme is part of plans to transition the NHS to owning all GP premises by 2043.

As the GP sustainability loan scheme is not a one-size-fits-all solution, practices are advised to speak to their professional adviser.