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Manchester's Mayor Says The Government's Contribution To The Costs Of The Arena Attack Is "Not Good Enough"

Theresa May has written to Andy Burnham to say that, despite previous commitments, the government won't reimburse the full cost of the attack response, estimated at £17 million.

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The amount the government has offered to pay towards the cost of the vast relief and cleanup effort following the terrorist attack at Manchester Arena in May this year will leave councils and emergency services "out of pocket" and result in services being cut, according to the mayor of Greater Manchester.

Andy Burnham said on Friday he'd received a letter from the prime minister stating the government would contribute £12 million towards the cost of the operation in the wake of the bombing, which killed 22 people.

But the total bill is thought to be more than £17 million: The Manchester Evening News reported that Greater Manchester police ran up a bill of £8 million in the vast counterterror investigation that followed that attack, while health services and councils spent some £9 million in counselling and assisting families.

Theresa May said in parliament last week, in response to a question to Manchester Central MP Lucy Powell, that the city would receive "the majority" of the outstanding bill.

Burnham told Granada Reports on Friday: "I can say that the statement is inconclusive, it doesn't give us an answer, and therefore it's not good enough.

"I've hesitated to raise this subject publicly because I don't want anyone to think I'm making mischief or playing politics. Sir Richard Leese [leader of Manchester City Council] and I wrote privately some months ago setting out the costs Greater Manchester had incurred. And here we are six months on from the attack and we still don't have an answer.

"The reason why that matters is that we are then left with the bill and that will mean we have to cut public services to cover those costs ... which the residents of Greater Manchester need.

"I need to send a message straight back to the government on behalf of Greater Manchester to say, while we appreciate the letter, it's not good enough and we expect these costs be paid in full."

Burnham added that he was told by central government at the time of the attack: "Whatever you need, it will be there."

"I think we can expect those words to be honoured," he said. "And it's not the case that we should just be paid the majority or what the government considers to be reasonable. We're not sending a bill in that's inflated in any way – these are the costs.

"This has created a real hole in the finances of our public bodies. This is a real issue that's affecting us now and we're still waiting."

Burnham said that with the cost of inquests and an inquiry into the attack, the total cost to the city and wider region could spiral even higher.

Lucy Powell told BuzzFeed News: "The prime minister stood up in the House of Commons last week and promised to the people of Manchester that her government would honour the commitments she made after the terrible events at the Manchester Arena six months ago.

"It’s deeply disappointing, therefore, that at this late stage it now seems that she is rowing back on her commitments. Her letter to Andy Burnham and others still leaves many question marks over many aspects of the funding to be recouped.

"This will have a knock-on impact on public services across the city as budgets for next year are being finalised, and goes against the undertaking given to the people of Manchester. I will raise this again as the prime minister must up her offer, and quickly."

Other Manchester MPs reacted angrily to the news:

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@DanielHewittITV This is outrageous. As Home Secretary you cut GMP Police Officers by 2,000 and as PM you promised… https://t.co/EjMYClsJud

Need to see the details on this, but I'm shocked that a Prime Minister would nit-pick over the costs of a terror at… https://t.co/HAZenFQWjk

A Home Office spokesperson said: "We are absolutely committed to ensuring the victims of this terrible attack and Greater Manchester have all possible support.

"We have given strong assurances Manchester will receive £12 million. That includes £3 million being paid now and a further £1 million being made available to the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund.

"This in an ongoing process and the government stands by its commitment to provide all necessary further assistance."

Patrick Smith is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Patrick Smith at patrick.smith@buzzfeed.com.

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