PM says government will pay Manchester Arena bombing costs

Theresa May has promised the government will fully fund the costs of dealing with the Manchester Arena bombing after criticism that an initial offer fell at least £5m short of what local authorities needed.

The government had previously said Manchester had been assured it would receive £12m, with £3m being made available immediately.

But the Greater Manchester mayor, Andy Burnham, said more than £17.5m had already been spent and suggested at least £10.4m more could be needed to cover costs including the inquests into the 22 deaths at a concert by the American singer Ariana Grande and an inquiry. He warned that local authorities would be forced to cut services to make up the shortfall.

The prime minister said a taskforce had been established within the Cabinet Office to oversee progress on meeting the costs.

She said: “The terror attack in Manchester was one of the darkest moments in the city’s history. Twenty-two people were killed in a brutal act of hatred deliberately aimed at innocent children on what should have been one of the best nights of their young lives.

“In the hours, days and weeks that followed the arena bombing, the spirit of Manchester shone out in defiance of an attack designed to destroy lives and devastate a community.

“I promised in the wake of that appalling atrocity this government would do all it could to help victims recover and the city to heal. I repeat that commitment today.

“Where your public services have had to bear, or will bear, unexpected and exceptional costs in coping with this terrible attack, these will be met by the government. The process of making those payments is ongoing and I understand the frustration felt at the pace of delivery.

“So I have taken steps to speed up our response. Over the weekend, a taskforce has been established within the Cabinet Office to oversee progress and expedite payments when necessary. It will coordinate the cross-government response, pulling together the work of the Home Office, the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Department of Health and the Ministry of Justice.

“Not all the funding will be needed immediately. For example the inquests, opened and adjourned this month, will not begin until next June. Be in no doubt, however, Manchester will get the financial support it needs, and if that costs £28m, as Andy Burnham has estimated, then that is what we will make available.”