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Surrey council sweetheart deal would be worth £290m to London councils if replicated

At Prime Minister’s Questions recently Jeremy Corbyn challenged the Prime Minister over an apparent ‘sweetheart’ deal for Surrey Council. The Government has apparently offered Conservative-led Surrey special terms to back down on a proposal to increase council tax by 15 per cent in order to deal with the social care crisis; it has not offered this same deal to other councils suffering from the Tory social care crisis. 

Now, new Labour analysis of Local Government Association statistics reveals that:

-          By backing down from a 15 per cent council tax rise, in favour of a five per cent rise, Surrey Council are foregoing £62m in increased revenue. We can assume that they have been offered central government recompense for doing so.

-          If the Conservative Government were to offer all local authorities funding to make up the difference between a 15 per cent and a five per cent rise it would cost them over £2bn - £290m in London

In agreeing such a deal the Tories have tacitly accepted warnings from experts that social care is in crisis. The Kings Fund recently reported that there was a £1.9bn funding gap facing social care in 2017/18.

Teresa Pearce, Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said:

“Local government is facing a huge crisis in funding social care. Downing Street has caused it and should be fixing it, but instead they’ve cooking up unfair deals accused of special favours to Tory councils only. It’s outrageous.

“The Government should not be using backroom deals with sympathetic Tory council leaders to try and avoid negative publicity whilst offering no support to the rest of the country.

“We need a long-term strategic rethink of social care funding, as well as urgent funding to stem the crisis which is hurting elderly and disabled people right now rather than these private secret deals.”

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