We need answers on Surrey ‘sweetheart deal’ reports
Posted by Editor
I’ve joined with other council leaders from across the country to demand answers from the Prime Minister about a deal the Government is alleged to have hatched to give Surrey County Council special help to address the social care funding crisis.
We are asking whether it is the case that Surrey council leader David Hodge agreed to call off a referendum proposing a 15 per cent council tax rise in return for a secret agreement by the Department for Communities and Local Government to plug a huge gap in the council’s budget caused by social care costs and spending cuts.
Surrey is by no means alone in facing an acute and growing social care crisis.
Here in Birmingham, we spent £346 million on adult social care seven years ago. Taking inflation into account, we’d need to spend £420 million now to be delivering services at the same level.
In fact, because of the Government’s austerity regime, we will be able to spend about £230 million in 2017-18.
Our spending on caring for older people has been decimated. Cut by almost half since 2010.
The independent King’s Fund charity believes that in two years there will be a £2.8 billion gap across the country between demand for social care and local authority resources to pay for social care.
By that time public spending on social care will fall to less than one per cent of GDP.
So, if the Government is prepared to help Surrey it must give the same help to all other councils.
Here is the text of the letter to Theresa May:
The Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
London SW1A 2AA
We are writing regarding funding arrangements for Conservative-run Surrey County Council. Specifically, the alleged reason behind David Hodge’s decision to drop a planned referendum on increasing council tax by 15 per cent to cover the severe shortfalls in social care, after apparently holding ‘several conversations’ with Whitehall figures.
It has been widely reported in leaked texts, sent by David Hodge supposedly intended for Nick King, Sajid Javid’s special advisor, that DCLG was working on a ‘Memorandum of Understanding.’
In response, as Leaders of Labour councils and council groups, we have a series of questions:
- Was a deal struck for Surrey County Council?
- If so, what are the details of the deal?
- Why was a special deal struck with Surrey behind closed doors?
Does the Government finally recognise that local Government is grossly underfunded and is that why they have given a special deal to Surrey?
- Does the Government now recognise that there will be a £2.6bn shortfall in social care funding by 2020?
- If a deal was struck, will Ministers offer the same deal given to Surrey to all councils, regardless of political affiliation, when the Local Government finance settlement is published on 22nd February?
We have a crisis in social care, resulting from the Conservative Government’s cuts to local authority funding. Secret backroom deals are not the answer. We urgently need a proper solution, which means providing councils with the funding they needed to solve this crisis.
Given the public interest in this matter we will be publishing this letter.
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