Newman demands same treatment as in Surrey’s ‘secret deal’

Tony Newman, the leader of Croydon Council, has added his name to a round-robin from dozens of Labour-run local authorities demanding that they should receive the same sort of preferential treatment which the Tory government has given to Conservative-run Surrey County Council.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn: has the support of Croydon's members

Jeremy Corbyn: had Prime Minister bang to rights over secret deal for Surrey

Surrey announced last month that it was prepared to hold a referendum on a 15 per cent Council Tax increase to help fund its adult social care programme, due to continuing cuts in funding from central government. Earlier this week, David Hodge, the Surrey council leader, announced that the referendum was being dropped.

But at Prime Minister’s Questions in Westminster yesterday, Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party leader, read from leaked messages between Whitehall and Hodge which revealed a secret deal which would allow Surrey to drop its Council Tax increase and the politically embarrassing referendum. Surrey has 11 parliamentary constituencies, all Tory, including those of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, and the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt.

The message exchange was apparently with a special adviser in the Department for Communities and Local Government, where Croydon Central Tory MP Gavin Barwell is minister for housing and planning.

Today’s Labour local authorities letter to Theresa Maybe, the unelected Prime Minister, was signed by Newman and 61 council leaders and directly elected mayors, “to seek assurance that any deal given to Surrey County Council to support their social care obligations will be offered to all councils”.

The letter states: “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:

a) Was a deal struck for Surrey County Council?
b) If so, what are the details of the deal?
c) Why was a special deal struck with Surrey behind closed doors?
d) Does the government finally recognise that local government is grossly underfunded and is that why they have given a special deal to Surrey?
e) Does the government now recognise that there will be a £2.6billion shortfall in social care funding by 2020?
f) 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 February 22?

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.

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4 Responses to Newman demands same treatment as in Surrey’s ‘secret deal’

  1. Peter Bell says:

    Watch this space – ALL the tory politicians will lie through their teeth and say that no deal was ever done with Surrey and that it was the Surrey councillors who saw the error of their ways and chose not to embarrass the Govt and BY THEMSELVES withdrew their threat to hold the referendum. There will be a brief flurry of interest in this story and soon it will all die down.

    BUT it will have shown the local people that the tory councillors are “on their side and tried to do summat about the lack of Govt. finance” & so will be voted in by the adoring population at the next election which i believe is coming up in May – the Govt will have “stood firm” to pressure (even from their own side) without compromising their policies. Thereby making them & their supporters all feel good.

    The poor will continue to get poorer, the services they require will continue to be cut the NHS will continue to get worse, and our society will again be pressured into further fragmentation. Meanwhile the labour party will be seen to be ineffective & unable to do anything (Except “write a letter” to the ministry, that will deny it ever happened)

    Sigh…. I despair !! (but no change there)

    • Indeed, DCLG and Surrey County Council have now both issued statements denying that any deal was done. They would say that, wouldn’t they?

      Expect Surrey CCC to be allowed to retain its Business Rates (Croydon is not) on a “trial basis”. Lucky them.

      But there was no deal done. Oh no. Not at all.

  2. Well done, Tony Newman and Jeremy Corbyn! A lot of people don’t realise that cuts being made by Councils are forced on them by the Government drastically cutting grants. As a result services like adult social care are starved of funds, which has a knock-on effect on the NHS. People, often the elderly, can’t be discharged from hospital as there’s nowhere for them to go.

    Croydon Central’s Tory MP, Gavin Barwell, can’t any longer dodge responsibility for this.

  3. sed30 says:

    Reblogged this on sed30's Blog and commented:
    Too right and all, the nasty party at their cronies best!

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