Will all councils be in a position to sign up to an alleged ‘sweetheart deal’ that appears to have been offered to Surrey Council?
Only a few weeks ago the proposal of raising council tax and the release of funding sooner rather than later to ease pressure on the NHS and enable social care providers to provide care at home or in care homes for the many elderly and vulnerable, well enough to go home but too frail to look after themselves; was being discussed frantically by many healthcare professionals.
Only this week the BBC have concentrated on the NHS and the many sad stories of people spending many weeks in hospital because the social care either isn’t there or hasn’t been agreed.
This prompted David Hodge, Leader of Surrey County Council, to announce a proposal to seek a council tax rise of 15% to pay the social care bill in Surrey.
He said: “We have to set a budget that will protect vital services for Surrey residents.
“Government has cut our annual grant by £170m since 2010 – leaving a huge gap in our budget.
“Demand for adult social care, learning disabilities and children’s services is increasing every year.
“So I regret, despite us finding £450m worth of savings from our annual budget, we have no choice but to propose this increase in council tax.”
This was the statement and video released by Surrey council earlier this year, when announcing a referendum for residents to decide upon a proposed hike in council tax. Yesterday with all the facts and figures remaining the same; the council announced the referendum wouldn’t be going ahead and that funds would be located elsewhere.
The situation regarding paying for care in Surrey highlighted the fact that whilst Surrey had a debt it was in no way as much as poorer areas of England and therefore the rise in council tax in other areas would have to be far more than an already significant 15% increase proposed by Surrey Council.
Today during Prime Ministers Questions the opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn read out a stream of texts said to be from Surrey Council’s David Hodge to a ‘Nick’ of Department for Communities and Local Government.
Mr Corbyn said: “These texts read, ‘I’m advised that DCLG officials have been working on a solution and you will be contacting me to agree a memorandum of understanding’.”
He added: “Will the government now publish this memorandum of understanding and, while they’re about it, will all councils be offered the same deal?”
Corbyn pointed out that Chancellor Philip Hammond and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt are both Surrey MPs, Mr Corbyn asked: “How much did the government offer Surrey to call this off and is the same sweetheart deal on offer to every council facing the social care crisis created by her government?”
The prime minister replied; “The deal that is on offer to all councils is the one that I have already set out.”
Funding on adult social care has FALLEN by 6.4 % since 2009. Many people working within the care sector have voiced worries about the tipping point facing the NHS and social care.
Paul Maloney, GMB Southern regional secretary, said