Liberal Democrats in Surrey have warned that the County Council's finances face an uncertain future after the Conservative administration today rejected a 4-year funding offer from the government.
The funding offer consisted of a guaranteed grant from the government lasting until 2020, but part of the deal involved having to pay back £17.3m to central government in the final year. The decision by the Conservative-administration to reject the offer means an even worse funding deal could be foisted on the Council by the government. This follows a decision last month by the Tory administration to tighten its belt even further by reducing planned expenditure for next year on vital services such as adult social care, children's services, highways and transport.
Cllr Hazel Watson, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, said:
"Surrey County Council was offered a poor deal by the Conservative government but now there is even more uncertainty as the Council has no idea what kind of funding it will receive in the future. The County Council does not help itself by budgeting unrealistically for services such as adult social care and children's services which are expected to overspend this financial year.
"The Chancellor, who is a Surrey MP, has already made clear his intention to boost spending in certain areas, such as house building and infrastructure, due to the uncertainty caused by Brexit. The fact that local government will not be receiving a spending boost makes it very clear that the Conservatives do not value local services and will not fund them properly.
"The message to residents here in Surrey is stark - the Conservatives have failed to get the resources needed to provide services across the County, and Surrey's financial outlook remains uncertain. I am pressing the Conservative administration to negotiate the best possible deal with central government for Surrey County Council to protect services for Surrey residents. It is important however to ensure that the County Council funding is spent wisely and that it is not wasted".