Deal or no deal?

Surrey County Hall Image copyright PA
Image caption Surrey Council called off a referendum on a 15% tax rise

Deal or no deal?

Jeremy Corbyn unusually had the better of Theresa May in Prime Minister's Questions, brandishing leaked texts across the despatch box, claiming evidence that the Tories had given Surrey a special deal to avoid the chance of a damaging 15% council tax rise in a Conservative safe haven.

The council, and ministers, denied there had been any stitch-up.

But hours later, the government admitted they had agreed, in theory, that Surrey County Council could, like several others, try out keeping all of the business rates they raise from 2018, which could plug the gaps in funding in future.

That change is due to be in force across in England by 2020. Technically therefore, Surrey County Council has not been offered any additional funding. But the prospect of more flexibility over their own income in future could help fill the council's coffers, and seems to have eased some of their concerns.

But as a solution to easing the pressure in social care across the country now, the idea could fall far short.

Where there is high need for care for the elderly, there is likely to be a lower local tax base. Conversely, in more prosperous areas where councils can raise a lot of tax, there is likely to be less need for financial help.

One local government leader told me "all that would do is to lock in the existing iniquity to the system". And major changes to how councils pay their way could make a difference in the long term. Many argue, the social care crisis is now.

Medics, NHS leaders, local government leaders, MPs, former ministers, and of course many members of the public are day after day reporting concerns about the creaks in the social care system, arguing for big changes or big extra money.

There are though few signs of any extra cash on the way in the Budget next month. Privately ministers are hunting for solutions. The prime minister's allies say she is prepared to be "radical".

A Tory council might have been appeased by a promise to change their future funding - others may not be so easily satisfied.