Blackpool’s council leader today called for more funding for adult social care in the town amid claims of a so called ‘sweetheart’ deal for Surrey County Council.
Coun Simon Blackburn is among 62 Labour council leaders who have signed a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May seeking assurances all local authorities will be treated fairly when it comes to social care funding.
It follows an accusation by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn that ministers had agreed a deal to ensure Tory-controlled Surrey dropped plans to raise council tax by up to 15 per cent to cover social care costs.
At Prime Minister’s Question Time, he read out what he said were leaked messages showing Surrey’s council leader negotiating with the Government to call off a referendum on the rise.
Coun Blackburn said Blackpool was facing a shortfall of almost £3.7m in its adult social care budget.
He said: “Blackpool Council has no option but to do as a great many councils - of all political persuasions- are doing, and to increase council tax to pay for the shortfall in adult social care.
“There is a shortfall of almost £3.7m in the adult social care budget.
“Even after applying the Government’s recommended three per cent council tax increase, which they call the social care precept, still leaves a shortfall of £972,000.
“Increasing the general level of council tax by a further 1.99 per cent does not quite fill that gap, but we will make efficiency savings elsewhere to balance the books.
“I am very disappointed that despite cross-party lobbying on this matter, the Government has chosen to push these costs onto council taxpayers, who are already paying enough.
“Everyone, apart from the Prime Minister, recognises the current funding system for adult social care is broken.
“Quite what they have done to ‘buy-off’ Surrey County Council remains to be seen, but I will be at the forefront of efforts to ensure any additional funding comes to areas like Blackpool.”
The Government has denied offering Surrey a special deal but said Surrey had asked to take part in the pilot of a new business rates scheme.
This will involve it keeping all of the business rates it raises from 2018, ahead of the change coming into force across England from 2020.