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Surrey discusses council tax rise of 1.99%

Surrey County Council's Cabinet is to meet later today to consider a proposal to raise council tax for the next financial year by 1.99%.

The Council says the increase would allow for greater investment in schools, roads and care for vulnerable people.

Members will also discuss rejecting the Government's offer of introducing a freeze on council tax for the county. According to the council if the authority took up the offer, it would lead to a black hole of £50 million - equivalent to the loss of the road maintenance bill for around three years.

The proposals will go before the full council at a meeting next week.

Although this is a difficult decision in the current economic climate, people have consistently told us that roads, schools and care for the vulnerable are what matter to them most. That’s why we want to invest in them now.

“The Government has offered us a one-off grant if we freeze council tax. Accepting it would be the wrong decision for Surrey as it would cripple our finances for the future. It would saddle us with a £50 million black hole in our budget in just five years and prevent us from investing in services when people need them most.

“The easy option as a politician would be to park the problem until after the election. But it would saddle Surrey with a financial time bomb that would go off in five years time. And that would be an irresponsible decision for us to recommend.”

– David Hodge, Conservative - Leader, Surrey County Council

Partners in saving

Surrey and East County Councils say they want to join forces to save millions of pounds.

The two local authorities are finalising plans to work together to drive harder bargains with suppliers they both use.

They claim collective buying power will cut shared costs by millions of pounds each year.

The partnership will be considered by East Sussex's cabinet on 24th July. Peter Jones, the leader of East Sussex County Council, said it was a ground breaking partnership which would lead to better deals.

The public sector should be seen as a single team co-operating to save money wherever possible while continuing to provide excellent services."

– David Hodge, Surrey County Council leader.