Theresa May has announced that the government will pay the full £28m required to cover the costs incurred by police, NHS bodies, and councils in the aftermath of the May 22 terror attack.
This comes after the PM faced heavy backlash on Friday for declaring Number 10 would pay just £12m of the required £17m reimbursements in the wake of the attack, arguing it only had a duty to cover so-called ‘reasonable costs’.
The sudden u-turn is thanks to a vocal response from Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, who dismissed the initial offering as ‘not good enough’.
I thank the Prime Minister for her helpful words this evening. We will work constructively with the Taskforce to achieve a fair resolution. https://t.co/ssi4Zc2nRE
— Andy Burnham (@AndyBurnhamGM) November 26, 2017
He argued that, contrary to the government’s estimations, £17.5m had already been spent in the aftermath of the incident, and suggested at least £10.4m further could be needed to cover inquests into the 22 deaths, as well as related inquiries.
His concern was that cuts would have to hit public services in order to cover the costs, arguing that it is not acceptable for they city to be left in such a position.
The outcry was backed by both Manchester council leader Sir Richard Leese – who called the official announcement ‘incomplete and inconclusive’ – and shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, who said the government’s decision was ‘completely unacceptable’.
It appears that the mounting pressure since Friday prompted the Cabinet to hold urgent meetings over the weekend, and the prime minister has since released a reconsidered statement on the issue.
Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, the prime minister said: “Be in no doubt, 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.”
Mrs May went on to credit the blast that killed 22 and left hundreds more wounded and severely traumatised as one of the ‘darkest moments in the city’s history’, praising the response of the people of Manchester as ‘both powerful and fearless’.
She continued in the statement: “I promised in the wake of the 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 on-going and I understand the frustration felt at the pace of delivery. So I have taken steps to speed up our response.
“Support for all those whose lives were forever changed by that brutal blast is unfailing, but Manchester does not endure alone.”