At the full Council meeting on Tuesday 12 October 2021, Surrey County Council (SCC) Leader, Councillor Tim Oliver, confirmed that SCC was working with partners and central government to secure a 'County Deal'. As part of his remarks to the assembled Members, Councillor Oliver said:
"...we are ready to stand up for Surrey and ask for greater local powers from central government in the form of a County Deal.
What that will look like specifically is not yet known, but from our conversations together so far, it's clear that the vast majority of local partners and stakeholders share our ambitions of a stronger county, with more control of our own destiny, delivering the right local solutions so that Surrey can be the very best place it can be.
The government have set out their agenda and we have a responsibility to engage with that, as local leaders from across the country from all political persuasions are doing.
Their four 'Levelling Up' objectives are things all of us in this Council Chamber should be aiming to deliver for Surrey:
- Empowering local leaders and communities;
- Growing the private sector and boosting living standards;
- Spreading opportunity and improving public services;
- Restoring local pride
We owe it to our residents to step forward at this opportunity and deliver this agenda locally."
Below are some Frequently Asked Questions that will give you more information on what SCC is seeking and how it will benefit Surrey residents. We will update these pages as the Surrey County Deal plans are developed and decisions are made.
Frequently asked questions
- Is Surrey County Council seeking to secure a County Deal?: Yes. The Government's imminent Levelling Up White Paper and prospect of County Deals present an opportunity to ensure that Surrey and its residents have the powers and resources we need to do the best we can to make the county the best place to live in the country.
- What are you asking for?: We are asking for increased local powers, freedoms and flexibilities that we're confident will enable us and our partners and residents to have better outcomes and better value for money for their public services. We will be able to better tackle some of the fundamental challenges facing our communities through more effective local engagement and empowerment for residents.
- Why is the County Council leading this work?: The Government have offered county councils across the country the opportunity to strike deals with Government on behalf of their communities. Ultimately, this is about partnership working through a County Deal, which will empower ourselves, our partners and local communities to improve the quality of life for all our residents and support Surrey's economic recovery and future prospects.
- How have you/will you be working in partnership with other authorities and organisations in Surrey?: While necessarily leading the initial stages of the work, we are working with the leaders and chief executives of Surrey's district and borough councils and the Surrey Association of Local (Town and Parish) Councils in further developing these proposals, building on the excellent collaboration that is helping us weather the Coronavirus pandemic. We are also sharing the work with other partners (such as health) and businesses and will share a draft County Deal for public comments and scrutiny, once the Levelling Up proposals are clearer.
- Why are you doing this?: By giving SCC, its partners and communities more control over local services, functions and financing, we will be better able to achieve the best quality of life for our residents and businesses, in the most effective and efficient ways possible.
- What improvements will residents see as a result of this County Deal?: New powers and resources will enable us to work more closely in partnership with local communities, helping them drive their own economies, deliver more jobs and a stronger local labour market, open more shops, offices and houses, and enjoy better travel and transport and infrastructure.
- How will it do this?: Through closer working with partners we can provide measures tailored to an individual area's needs. We will be able to take a more coordinated, local approach to planning investment, housing, skills and education, as well as coordinate services like waste disposal more effectively, eliminating duplication and reducing costs to taxpayers.
- Why can't we do that currently?: Central government continues to retain much of the control of how local government operates and the UK is presently one of the most centralised countries in the Western world. We want to reverse this and give local people a say in running their communities.
- Why should Surrey County Council be trusted with so much power?: This is not about all power to the County Council, it's more about power for Surrey as a whole with devolution from central government, across all partners working together to make Surrey an even better place to live, work and do business.
- The proposal asks for powers to raise more taxes locally. Is this just about raising more money for council services?: This is about making sure our residents can benefit from the same freedoms and flexibilities as areas like Greater Manchester to help us plan and address specific local concerns and issues, with more of our locally raised funds spent in our communities.
- Will you give residents a say on these proposals?: Residents will be consulted on specific aspects of the County Deal and we are looking at how we do this. We are sure, though, that the proposals will be supported as they will see more power to local residents to decide on their priorities.
- Would there be a Mayor of Surrey?: In our view, the current system of a Leader/Cabinet is the most appropriate system for Surrey.