Mayor Andy Burnham says despite the city requesting help from central government in wake of attack, nothing has been received.
The government has yet to provide any financial help to the victims of the Manchester bombing, despite the city requesting money at the highest level in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy.
Families of those killed and injured in the blast on 22 May feel they haven’t had enough recognition from the government, according to Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester.
Manchester city council warned there would be “disappointment and dismay” if there wasn’t a “swift resolution” to its request for funds from central government.
Adam Harrison, who was injured in the attack on an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena, along with his eight-year-old daughter and his partner, said: “From 22 May until now, it has always been very apparent that the public have come to answer the call in reaction to the incident at the arena, while at the same time, glaringly, the government seem to have stood back and watched.”
The Guardian understands that officials from Manchester city council asked for assistance at an emergency Cobra meeting shortly after the bomb attack, to ensure that victims would receive priority access to mental health support, as well as any help needed to cope with life-changing physical injuries.
They also asked for money to cover the administration of the I Love Manchester charity fund, which is expected to have raised £15m through public donations and proceeds from a benefit concert featuring Ariana Grande, who was given honorary citizenship of Manchester on Wednesday.
Inside the town hall there is frustration that the government has paid out quickly to help those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire but has not done the same for Manchester.
Two days after the Grenfell disaster last month Theresa May pledged £5m to pay for emergency supplies, food and clothes for the survivors, despite the disaster taking place in the richest borough in the UK.
Kensington and Chelsea council has reserves of £274m, according to the latest accounts, and was in such a healthy financial position before the fire that it offered a council tax rebate to its wealthiest inhabitants.
Seven weeks after the Manchester attack, which left 22 dead and more than 100 injured, the government has not given any financial assistance to the victims.
Instead, payments of around £4m have been made to the families from the charity fund, with those bereaved receiving £20,000 and those who spent more than seven days in hospital being given £10,000.
Harrison, 32, tore a ligament in his ankle running out of the Arena carrying his daughter Lily, who had a piece of bomb shrapnel lodged against her scapula. His partner, Lauren, had at least five operations to treat a deep wound in her thigh caused by an inch-long bolt.
He said: “What happened at Grenfell Tower was awful, very much like the Manchester arena bomb. Naturally you think it would bring together a show of unity between the government and the public, but unfortunately there has not been much forthcoming.
“It’s very annoying and I’d expect nothing less. Growing up as a kid during the Maggie Thatcher era, I was brought up to expect nothing and appreciate everything so it’s business as usual. Up here we just get on with it. But I can’t help but feel terrible for the family and friends of the 22 we lost at the arena, as their government hasn’t even acknowledged them.”
Burnham is in the process of compiling a bill to send to central government to cover the costs to Greater Manchester of dealing with the bomb aftermath — to cover the extra policing and increased demands for counselling, for example.
He said: “I’ve met a number of the Manchester families now and the challenges they are facing is huge. A common theme I’m picking up is that they feel they haven’t had enough recognition from the government. Obviously there has been support through the emergency charity fund, but they feel they would like to see more. So it’s for the government really to communicate directly with the families and speak to them.”
Sue Murphy, deputy leader of Manchester city council and chair of the board of trustees for the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund, said: “We have been in ongoing discussions with the government about financial assistance towards the humanitarian costs associated with the Manchester Arena attack.
“While we remain optimistic about the government making good on their commitments, in line with the support given to other places which have experienced recent terrible events, there will be disappointment and dismay if this is not forthcoming and we look forward to a swift resolution.”
Though it has yet to pay up to Manchester council or any of the victims directly, the government has donated to the British Red Cross for the Emergency Fund, equivalent to the VAT raised by ticket sales for the Ariana Grande tribute concert.
A government spokesman said: “The government is committed to ensuring that the victims of this dreadful attack in Manchester, and the victims of other recent attacks in the UK, get the support they need.
“We have already established a Victims of Terrorism Unit (VTU) to ensure support to victims is comprehensive, coordinated and clearly communicated. This is just one way in which we are providing support to those affected by terrorist attacks.”
So far the VTU appears to consist of a web page with links to leaflets about trauma and telephone numbers for services such as the Samaritans.
The spokesman added: “We continue to work closely with Manchester city council and the mayor’s office in supporting the fantastic work they have done so far in response to this attack.”
Source: The Guardian