PMQs: Corbyn quizzes May about Surrey ‘sweetheart deal’ on social care

What's the difference between a sweetheart deal and a 'gentleman’s agreement'?


Jeremy Corbyn clashed with Theresa May over the ‘sweetheart deal’ with Surrey Country Council to scrap a 15 per cent council tax hike to fund social care.

Citing a leaked recording from Surrey Council Leader David Hodge refering to a ‘gentleman’s agreement’, the Labour Party leader asked:

“Could the PM explain the difference between a sweetheart deal and a gentleman’s agreement?”

May replied:

“The substance of what he’s asking is has their been a particular deal with Surrey County Council that is not available to other councils and the answer to that is no.”

She added that raising social care precepts to three per cent is ‘available to every council’.

Corbyn said there is ‘an acute social care crisis that affects every council’, and asked:

“Can the PM tell every other council in England what gentleman’s agreement is available to them?”

May repeated her answer, so Corbyn moved on to the related issue of business rates. He asked:

“[Can she explain] why Surrey is the only county council to be allowed into the business rate retention pilot when it’s been denied to others?”

May replied that the business rate retention pilot ‘will be coming into force for a number of councils this April’, naming Liverpool, Greater Manchester and Greater London, and adding:

“In 2019/20 it’s going to be available to 100 per cent of councils, for 2018/19 councils are able to apply to be part of a further pilot – that goes for all councils across the country.”

Obviously this doesn’t explain why Surrey County Council is in the pilot already.

See: Budget 2017 liveblog: Responses to Philip Hammond’s statement

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