London riots: 20 firms apply for High Street Fund

Boris Johnson in Clapham Junction
Image caption London Mayor Boris Johnson visited Clapham Junction following riots and looting in the area

Only 20 companies have applied for a grant from a fund set up for small firms which were looted or damaged during the riots in London.

The High Street Fund, set up by a coalition of businesses and the mayor's office, was launched last Friday.

Boris Johnson said its value had risen from £3m to £4m thanks to donations from other companies.

"About 20 applications are being processed. But there must be more demand than that," said Mr Johnson.

"There have been two claims where money is going out.

"The message has not been possibly as widely disseminated among some of the businesses that need help as it might have been."

'Poor take-up'

Last week, the mayor said the grants of up to £2,000 were specifically aimed at firms with fewer than 10 employees so that they could keep trading and pay salaries until other funding came through.

Businesses which apply for help will also be able to make applications via other compensation schemes while money allocated for regeneration, including a £20m High Street Support Scheme, will also be distributed by councils.

More than 2,100 people have been arrested over rioting and looting in the capital and more than half of them have been charged.

Ken Livingstone, Labour's London mayoral candidate, said, "The mayor should be pulling out all the stops to help the thousands of small businesses who were affected by the riots.

"It's been a month since the riots and there is no excuse for such a poor take-up from businesses to this fund."

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