Money from We Love Manchester fund donated by members of public to go to families of those killed in 22 May attack
The families of the 22 people killed in the Manchester Arena bombing will each receive £250,000 from money donated by members of the public.
Those families include a 12-year-old girl and her 20-year-old sister, who lost both parents in the attack. Patrycia and Alex Klis will receive £500,000 between them after their mother and father died while waiting to collect them from the Ariana Grande concert on 22 May.
The day after the attack, Alex posted an appeal on Facebook for information about her parents, including a selfie they had taken in Manchester hours before their death.
The 57 people who spent seven or more nights in the hospital as a result of their injuries have so far received £60,000 each from the We Love Manchester fund, which is expected to reach somewhere between £16m and £17m.
The payments to the Manchester victims are in contrast to those given to the families of the 80 people who died in the Grenfell Tower fire in London. Only a fraction of the £18.9m collected for survivors has been distributed, according to Charity Commission figures.
Some £2.8m has reached victims – less than 15% of the total raised by charities led by the Red Cross, the Kensington & Chelsea Foundation and the Evening Standard. Families of victims of the Grenfell fire are eligible for an initial £10,000 and those who lost a relative in the fire can get a payment of £20,000.
Nine people are still in hospital following the arena attack, according to Sue Murphy, chair of the fund and deputy leader of Manchester city council. The fund has yet to decide whether those injured should receive more money to cope with life-changing injuries, she said.
A further 96 people who spent between one night and seven days in hospital have so far been given £3,500 each, but some are likely to receive more if they have to take time off work for their injuries. “There are some grey areas,” said Murphy, “for example, people who were quickly discharged from hospital but have since had to return for further operations.”
A total of £250,000 will be given to the next of kin of each of the 22 victims, as identified by the coroner when he opened the inquests in June. They have already received the first £70,000 and should get the balance in the coming weeks, said Murphy.
The Guardian understands that the decision to give all the money to just one family member has caused some unhappiness among some of the bereaved, though exceptions can be made for divorced parents who shared custody of a child who died. “Virtually all” those who qualify for money from the We Love Manchester fund have accepted it, said Murphy.
The recipients can spend the money however they see fit, but the trustees are encouraging them to seek financial advice. “The money is given as a gift so it’s up to them what they do with it,” said Murphy.
Any payments from the We Love Manchester fund are separate from compensation from the government’s Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. Murphy said the Department for Work and Pensions had assured her that anyone in receipt of money from the Manchester fund would not have their benefits cut.
The final fund total will not be confirmed until all of the pledged money comes in, including £2m raised via text donations from the One Love concert, when Grande returned to Manchester less than two weeks after the attack.
Murphy remains frustrated that the government has not yet pledged to cover the cost of administering the fund, which she estimates will be about 5% of the total — up to £450,000. The government paid the administration costs of a public appeal following the 7/7 bombings in London in 2005.
“We remain frustrated that the government has not yet agreed to fund the administration costs. We believe that the members of the public who generously donated to the We Love Manchester appeal want to see their money to directly to the victims,” said Murphy.
The victims minister, Karen Bradley, has met Manchester council officials but has yet to make any promises. However, the government has given £2.6m for the establishment of the Manchester Resilience Hub. It will co-ordinate the care and support for children, young people and adults whose mental health and/or emotional well being has been affected by the Arena bomb.
Murphy said the hardest job for the fund trustees is to establish how to use funds to help people with mental, rather than physical, problems. “The trickiest part of it is going to be mental health issues. It’s difficult to predict. Some people might not know yet how they are going to be affected in the long term.” She said Greater Manchester police had 300 witnesses to the bomb, who would all be offered trauma counselling.
Murphy said that a separate fund would be established to pay for a permanent memorial to the bomb victims. Suggestions so far include a statue of Ariana Grande, who was made Manchester’s first honorary citizen last month, and a garden planted with flowers particularly attractive to bees, Manchester’s civic symbol.