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Hodge denies leaked texts show secret care deal for Surrey

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Surrey CC leader David Hodge has denied he struck a secret deal with the government over social care funding.

Yesterday Cllr Hodge (Con) called off a bid to raise council tax to 15% as the meeting where councillors were due to vote on the measure got under way.

This morning text messages, sent by Cllr Hodge, emerged on Twitter which appear to have been intended for an official at the Department for Communities & Local Government, but were sent to a Labour party insider by mistake.

These suggest Cllr Hodge had reached an agreement with government over future social care funding.

Responding to the texts, Cllr Hodge said: “Surrey’s decision not to proceed with a 15% 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.”

During the text exchange which began on Friday, Cllr Hodge writes that he is “advised” that DCLG and Surrey’s director of finance Sheila Little and chief executive David McNulty “had been working on a solution” and that he understands the chief secretary to the Treasury was “looking at the proposals”.

Later he says that DCLG director for local government finance Matthew Style and Ms Little “had just spoken” adding “the numbers you indicated are the numbers that I understand are acceptable for me to accept and call off the R……”

During yesterday’s debate at full council Cllr Hodge said: “The government now understands this crisis and is increasingly committed to resolving it. This administration believes there is now a solution.

“We have had many conversations with government. Government has listened and we believe government understands.

“I am confident and reassured that they have accepted the need for more sustainable funding for adult social care – we will see action on this issue in the coming days and months.”

He added that the government had recognised Surrey had been unfairly “penalised” under the current funding framework and had promised to “refresh” the system through its plan for 100% business rates retention by 2020.

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