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Riot-hit firms backed by £3m fund

Business coalition endorsed by London mayor Boris Johnson to offer cash support to small businesses hit by disturbances

A £3m fund has been launched to help businesses hit by the riots and looting that devastated parts of England earlier this month.

A coalition of businesses, supported by the London mayor, Boris Johnson, announced a High Street Fund offering cash support to smaller firms hit by the disturbances.

Firms including Barclays, BP, Lloyds Banking Group, Deloitte, RBS, Capita and Santander will contribute to the fund, with the mayor to put in £500,000.

Sir William Castell, chairman of the High Street Fund and also chairman of the Wellcome Trust, said: “This fund is about providing real help to businesses who need help now.

“Everyone was shocked at the damage caused by the riots, and for numerous small businesses the hardship is still being felt.

“The High Street Fund will be the channel for the British business community to rally round and aid smaller businesses caught up in the disturbances.”

Johnson said: “I have seen at first hand businesses showing remarkable resilience and true fighting spirit.

“However, it is no secret that many high streets in the capital are still suffering as a result of the appalling events earlier this month.

“Small businesses need urgent help to repair damage and get goods back on the shelves and the High Street Fund will help to do just that.

“I have absolutely no doubt that if we pull together and give our support to the fund, we can ensure that London emerges as a stronger and even more prosperous city than before.”

Bob Dudley, the BP Group chief executive, said: “BP is pleased to support the High Street Fund. This is an important venture in restoring the high streets that are at the heart of local communities.

“The riots were a dreadful series of events touching the lives of many in areas in which we operate through our retail forecourt sites or offices.

“They impacted many small businesses in the high street who, without support from funds such as this, would not be able to reopen and build for the future. We look forward to seeing these communities growing and flourishing.”

The mayor said he would personally contribute to the fund, which he stressed was being set up in addition to other offers of financial help from the government.

The fund is aimed at small firms, which will receive up to £2,000 to help repair damage or pay staff wages.

Several hundred firms in London alone are expected to apply, with the first grants likely to be paid out next week.

Johnson said he had been moved by much of the damage he had seen for himself, including a wrecked pub in Tottenham and a burnt-out family furniture business in Croydon.

He said many of the areas in the capital hit by outbreaks of violence were in need of investment and rejuvenation before the riots and he hoped the grants would help businesses move forward.

The money was “additional urgent cash” for smaller businesses trying to reopen.

About 1,300 businesses were affected by the disturbances, but confidence was starting to return, said the mayor. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds