Another tribunal challenge to FirstPort’s insurance costs – on behalf of freeholder E&J Estates – is being mounted by a chartered tax advisor, who is arguing that the capital value of his daughter’s block has been unreasonably hiked by adding VAT.
Brian White, MBE, (right) argues that the rebuild cost of the entire site at Hollin Bank Court in Blackburn, where his daughter Sophie lives, has been estimated at £16.2 million, but that the correct figure should be £13.5 million, as there is no VAT on residential new builds.
In his witness statement submitted to the tribunal, which will hear the case in January 2024, Mr White argues:
“They equally admit to inflating the sum Insured by 30% for “standard inflation purposes” and yet the policy is reset each year so loading the Sum Insured with a 30% uplift each year is designed to inflate the kickback commissions to the freeholder and its agents.”
FirstPort / E&J Estates charged premiums on values of £23.3 million in 2023, £23.1 million in 2022, £21.3 million in 2021 and £20.2 million in 2020.
Mr White claims in his statement that he has tried to raise his concerns with both FirstPort and E&J Estates but that the dialogue was “shut down”.
“Every leaseholder at Hollin Bank Court has been overcharged by FirstPort, who levy the charge and threaten late payment fees if a leaseholder seeks to challenge the premiums, as it clearly disturbs the kickback commissions of 18.22% as admitted by E&J Estates,” Mr White declares.
His witness statement includes an email from E&J Estates which appears to acknowledge this commission.
In addition, Mr White includes what he describes as a like for like quote for the building insurance from the broker Reich which comes out as £11,789.
Mr White’s argument is contested by E&J Estates and FirstPort, with a paper hearing set for January.
“There is no need for a hearing with witnesses, as all the issues are clearly available in writing,” he said.
Mr White, 59, who is a prominent figure in Manchester’s Jewish community, is chair of the charity Medequip4kids and was awarded an MBE in 2021.