Brighton council leader calls for investigation into alleged ‘sweetheart deal’ for Surrey

Cllr Warren Morgan, the leader of Brighton and Hove City Council SUS-161130-165515001
Cllr Warren Morgan, the leader of Brighton and Hove City Council SUS-161130-165515001

Brighton and Hove’s council leader has called for an investigation into whether Surrey County Council has won a ‘preferential funding deal’ from the Government after scrapping its plans for a 15 per cent council tax rise.

This comes after Prime Minister Theresa May was accused of giving Surrey a ‘sweetheart deal’ to avoid an embarrassing council tax hike by the Conservative-led council.

Cllr Warren Morgan, leader of the Labour-led Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “There seems to be evidence that some kind of arrangement has been made between Surrey County Council and the Government to help them meet their social care costs.

“All top-tier councils like Surrey and Brighton and Hove face huge pressures in meeting the funding challenges; with our social care bill now some £25m more than the entire amount we bring in through council tax.

“Surrey were threatening a 15 per cent council tax increase, but yesterday at the last minute chose to reduce it to five per cent, the same as Brighton and Hove City Council and our neighbours in East Sussex.

“We have worked very hard to minimise cuts to jobs and services whilst facing huge cuts and rapidly escalating social care costs.

“There must be an investigation into whether Surrey have won a preferential funding deal by threatening a steep rise, and if so then the Government have to make that same deal available to other councils who have played by the rules.

“We cannot continue to have the Government pass the costs of services on to the local taxpayer and there is agreement cross-party that they have to find an urgent solution to the social care funding crisis.”

David Hodge, leader of Surrey County Council, said: “Surrey’s decision not to proceed with a 15 per cent council tax increase was ours alone and there has been no deal between Surrey County Council and the Government. However, I am confident that the Government now understands the real pressures in adult social care and the need for a lasting solution.”