Surrey Council leader's 'deal' with Government revealed

David Hodge, the leader of Surrey County Council, has told me that a "gentleman's agreement" he disclosed to colleagues refers to funding for social care in the Budget - and there is no special deal for Surrey.

Surrey Council had been moving to hold a referendum on raising council tax to 15% to fund adult social care when someone persuaded them to change their minds.

Theresa May has repeatedly denied Surrey Council was given what Labour branded a "sweetheart deal".

This evening it was revealed that in February Mr Hodge had privately told fellow councillors about a discussion he'd had sitting in a ministerial car in Downing Street with Communities Secretary Sajid Javid.

Mr Javid then went straight in to speak to the Chancellor.

Mr Hodge said: "We listened carefully to the information that was being relayed back to us from government ... There may come a time that if what I call gentleman’s agreements, that the Conservative party often does are not honoured, we will have to revisit this in nine months or a year’s time."

Surrey County Council await Wednesday's Budget Credit: Google

But tonight Mr Hodge told me: "There was categorically no deal for Surrey.

"My understanding was that the Government was working on the issue of adult social care and we'll see what happens tomorrow in the Budget."

He confirmed that was the nature of the "gentleman's agreement".

Talk of a "gentleman's agreement" had renewed suspicions that there had been a deal to stop Surrey holding a referendum in a Tory area that would have been politically embarrassing for the Government.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond will deliver the Budget Credit: PA

Gareth Thomas, shadow communities minister, said the Government "needs to come clean on what was agreed with Surrey, and offer the same deal to every English council".

But the Government has also denied there was a deal.

A spokesperson said that there was "no special deal for Surrey County Council and they will not receive any extra funding that would not otherwise be provided or offered to other councils.

"To imply the opposite is simply untrue."

The Chancellor is widely expected to offer something in Wednesday's Budget to help local authorities who are struggling with social care bills.

It appears that will be especially keenly awaited in Surrey County Council, where they seem to have known this for some time.