Financial burden of riots will be crippling.

Recent widespread disturbances are placing a heavy financial burden on individuals, police and insur

As businesses in cities across the UK prepare for another night of chaos, figures are constantly under revision in an attempt to predict the cost of the riots.

On Tuesday, £100m was put forward as an estimate. That was before Manchester and Salford, amongst others, witnessed serious overnight disturbances. From looted shops and street fires to a massive increase in police numbers, the costs are escalating.

As it stands, legislation dictates that the police authorities must meet the costs of rioting under the Riots (Damages) Act 1886, which specifies that local police authorities must compensate victims where damage has been caused by people "riotously and tumultuously assembled".

Although some police authorities are insured against such events, whatever costs not covered must be met by police budgets. In light of the policing budget reduction as part of the public spending cuts, this signals serious concerns for the Met in particular. Reassurances are now being sought to ensure that front-line services including policing, fire and ambulance services will have everything they require to deal with ongoing disturbances.

As well as the immediate outcomes of the riots, longer-term impacts on services such as tourism should not be overlooked. Shadow business minister Chuka Umunna has said that the riots will have a seriously detrimental impact on Britain's economic recovery, particularly on small businesses, many of whom will be forced into bankruptcy. The service sector, which makes up around three-quarters of total UK GDP, grew by just 0.2 per cent over the last quarter. It has been "massively dented" by recent events, according to the Labour MP.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) have made it clear that insurers are working as quickly as possible to deal with claims, despite limitations such as access to dangerous buildings and crime scenes. The organisation is urging people to contact their insurer immediately in order to check what they are covered for and arrange help. Nick Starling, Director of General Insurance and Health at the organisation, said: "We have every sympathy for residents and business owners who have suffered damage to their properties. This is a time of enormous stress for them".

Comments over what the social impacts of the riots have been prolific, many of them making links between the coalition's drastic austerity measures and the ongoing implications of these, particularly now in light of the past few days. Mary Riddell points out the deep social cost of high unemployment:

If there are no jobs for today's malcontents and no means to exploit their skills, then the UK is in graver trouble than it thinks. Mr Osborne may congratulate himself on his prudence, but retrenchment also bears a social cost. We are seeing just how steep that price may be.


Tess Riley is a freelance journalist and social justice campaigner. She also works, part time, for Streetbank, and can be found on Twitter at @tess_riley

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The buck doesn't stop with Grant Shapps - and probably shouldn't stop with Lord Feldman, either

The question of "who knew what, and when?" shouldn't stop with the Conservative peer.

If Grant Shapps’ enforced resignation as a minister was intended to draw a line under the Mark Clarke affair, it has had the reverse effect. Attention is now shifting to Lord Feldman, who was joint chair during Shapps’  tenure at the top of CCHQ.  It is not just the allegations of sexual harrassment, bullying, and extortion against Mark Clarke, but the question of who knew what, and when.

Although Shapps’ resignation letter says that “the buck” stops with him, his allies are privately furious at his de facto sacking, and they are pointing the finger at Feldman. They point out that not only was Feldman the senior partner on paper, but when the rewards for the unexpected election victory were handed out, it was Feldman who was held up as the key man, while Shapps was given what they see as a relatively lowly position in the Department for International Development.  Yet Feldman is still in post while Shapps was effectively forced out by David Cameron. Once again, says one, “the PM’s mates are protected, the rest of us shafted”.

As Simon Walters reports in this morning’s Mail on Sunday, the focus is turning onto Feldman, while Paul Goodman, the editor of the influential grassroots website ConservativeHome has piled further pressure on the peer by calling for him to go.

But even Feldman’s resignation is unlikely to be the end of the matter. Although the scope of the allegations against Clarke were unknown to many, questions about his behaviour were widespread, and fears about the conduct of elections in the party’s youth wing are also longstanding. Shortly after the 2010 election, Conservative student activists told me they’d cheered when Sadiq Khan defeated Clarke in Tooting, while a group of Conservative staffers were said to be part of the “Six per cent club” – they wanted a swing big enough for a Tory majority, but too small for Clarke to win his seat. The viciousness of Conservative Future’s internal elections is sufficiently well-known, meanwhile, to be a repeated refrain among defenders of the notoriously opaque democratic process in Labour Students, with supporters of a one member one vote system asked if they would risk elections as vicious as those in their Tory equivalent.

Just as it seems unlikely that Feldman remained ignorant of allegations against Clarke if Shapps knew, it feels untenable to argue that Clarke’s defeat could be cheered by both student Conservatives and Tory staffers and the unpleasantness of the party’s internal election sufficiently well-known by its opponents, without coming across the desk of Conservative politicians above even the chair of CCHQ’s paygrade.

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.