Local Authorities, Banks and HMRC Support Riot-hit Businesses
Included in the key measures is a £20-million high-street support scheme announced by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles. Launching the scheme, Pickles said:
“Our priority is to get local communities back on their feet, get businesses up and running again, and make sure nobody is left without a roof over their head. We will stand side by side with communities as they rebuild their lives.”
£10 million to clean up damaged areas has also been pledged. In London, Mayor Boris Johnson has announced a £50-million long-term regeneration fund for riot-damaged areas of the capital.
Insurance companies, banks and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) have also pledged to offer rapid help and flexible terms to small businesses affected by the rioting and looting. New help on offer includes:
- The HMRC civil disorder helpline on 0845 366 1207. HMRC has said it will agree payment schedules with businesses unable to pay tax bills because of short-term financial problems or lost records.
- Assistance from high-street banks, including flexible terms, loan repayment holidays and new lending. For example, the Royal Bank of Scotland’s new £10-million fund gives interest-free loans of up to £25,000.
- Insurance guidance for business owners and a Riot Damages Act claim form (pdf) for uninsured businesses produced by the Association of British Insurers.
- A Law Society and LawWorks helpline on 020 7092 3949 that directs riot-damaged businesses to free legal advice. Businesses are asked to consult the LawWorks website before calling.
- Riot Rescue, an online service matching businesses with specific support, which is supported by the Forum of Private Business and the Association of Chartered and Certified Accountants.
However, many small businesses find themselves no better off despite the support. Zachar Hussain, owner of the Green Mango café in Ealing, is unable to reopen because of smoke and water damage to the café during the London riots. Hussain said his insurance company had told him he wasn’t sufficiently covered for repairs and replacement equipment, in spite of verbal reassurance.
“They won’t honour it, even though they verbally agreed it with me.”
said Hussain, who is now looking to claim through the Riot Damages Act.
“But that asks you to pay for repairs upfront and claim the costs back.”
The café-owner, who has five employees, said he was now putting his house up for sale at below market rate to get the money;
“It’s my only asset. I’ve got no money coming in at all. All I want is my shop to go back to how it was.”