Anger over PM ‘failure’ to commit to terror costs

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has reacted with anger after the Government suggested it may not pay the full costs of the Manchester Arena bombing.

The city had requested help after estimating it had been left with more than £17m in extra costs after the terror attack on 22 May, when 22 people were killed and hundreds injured.

Mr Burnham revealed he has now received a letter from Theresa May stating that “reasonable costs” will be paid, causing him to angrily demand the full costs be met.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham

Image: Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham revealed the news at a public meeting

Speaking at a meeting of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority on Friday, Mr Burnham interrupted planned proceedings to reveal the news.

He said: “As this meeting has been progressing, I have received a letter from the Prime Minister in relation to the issue I raised around the reimbursement of costs incurred as a result of the attack at the arena.

“While there is going to be a need to look at it carefully – and there is some commitment in it – particularly on the position of police costs, there is no commitment in the letter unfortunately.

“Only a commitment that the costs we’ve submitted will be looked at and that ‘reasonable costs’ will be paid, which doesn’t sound satisfactory to me.”

Image from Siobhan Robbins VT about those affected by the Manchester bombing

Video: Struggle of those affected by Manchester bombing

Mr Burnham claimed Manchester was “entitled to a better response than this” having “waited long enough” for a reply.

“I don’t think we should hold back in saying that we feel this needs to be resolved and resolved quickly,” he added.

“And, indeed, rather than just ‘reasonable costs’, all costs incurred as a result should be reimbursed.”

Earlier in the meeting, Mr Burnham had criticised the lack of mention in Wednesday’s Budget on police, security or counter-terrorism funding.

He said the absence of a funding boost by Chancellor Philip Hammond means Greater Manchester Police is set for a real terms cut in the coming year.

The city’s authority and local health and police services are seeking reimbursement from Westminster related to the costs incurred by the Manchester Arena atrocity.

Responding to Friday’s news, Labour’s Manchester Central MP Lucy Powell revealed she will be demanding an answer from ministers in Parliament on Monday.

Earlier this month, Ms Powell tackled the Prime Minister in the House of Commons over the wait for the costs of the Manchester terror attack to be reimbursed by central Government.

At the time, Mrs May said she expected the Government’s response “to confirm that the majority of funds will be made available”.

On Friday, a Government 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 assurance Manchester will receive £12m. That includes £3m being paid now and a further £1m being made available to support the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund.

“This is an ongoing process and the Government stands by its commitment to provide all necessary further assistance.”