Surrey County Council boss steps down after funds warning

David HodgeImage source, Surrey County Council
Image caption,
Council leader David Hodge is standing down

The leader of a council that has been plagued by financial issues has announced he is standing down.

Councillor David Hodge used his resignation speech to hit out at a lack of government funding.

He said the Conservative-run authority's role in providing services had been made more difficult because of "circumstances beyond its control".

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said Surrey had access to £1.68bn this year and next.

Mr Hodge said councils had lost £16bn in funding since 2009 and Surrey had lost £230m.

In his speech, Mr Hodge said local government had gone through challenging times but Surrey was "firmly fixed on an exciting new vision for the future" so it was the right time to leave.

He said the council had reduced costs by £540m over the past eight years and was on target to save a further £106m this year.

But Mr Hodge added: "Our task has been made continuously more difficult for us by circumstances beyond our control."

Image source, Google
Image caption,
The council was at the centre of an alleged "sweetheart" deal

Accountants warned in September that Surrey would not have sufficient reserves to meet a funding gap unless it acted.

The council was accused last year of agreeing an alleged "sweetheart" funding deal with the government after it planned a 15% council tax hike.

At the time, Downing Street said all conversations between the government and Surrey had been "entirely appropriate".

A government spokesman said: "Surrey County Council will have access to £1.68bn this year and next, which they should use to meet the needs of their residents.

"In the budget we announced over £1bn of additional funding for local government to address pressures on social care services and to carry out road repairs.

"On top of this, we are giving councils the power to retain the growth in business rates income."

Mr Hodge will step down on 11 December.

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