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Government Minister Re-asserts There Is No ‘Gentlement’s Agreement With SCC

Published on: 16 Mar, 2017
Updated on: 19 Mar, 2017

Marcus Jones MP

A government minister has written to Guildford’s MP, Anne Milton, re-asserting that there is no “gentlemen’s agreement” between the government and Surrey County Council (SCC).

Marcus Jones, the minister for local government, wrote: “We are not proposing extra funding to Surrey that is not otherwise provided or offered to other councils generally. There is no ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ between Government and Surrey County Council.”

The letter followed a last-minute about turn by SCC on holding a referendum on a 15% council tax rise to fund a budget shortfall, mainly caused by increasing social health care costs and a reducing government grant. On the day the decision was announced (February 8, 2017) council leader David Hodge was recorded referring to a “gentlemen’s agreement” in a briefing he gave his Conservative colleagues.

The leader of Surrey County Council, David Hodge.

In the recording Cllr Hodge was heard to say: “There are risks attached to what we are going to do I want to make that clear but I have witnesses who have recorded everything that was said and we have a gentlemen’s agreement with the chancellor and the secretary of state that we will sort the funding out for the following year.”

The minister’s letter confirms that SCC will be allowed to take part in a “100% Business Rates Retention” pilot next year, 2018/19.

Fears remain that the budgetary shortfall, a partial consequence of this year’s council tax rise being limited to 5%, will result in further cuts in some areas of council spending.

The letter from minister Marcus Jones to Guildford’s MP, Anne Milton.

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