RBS launches £10m fund to help small business riot victims

Up to £25,000 available in interest-free loans


RBS has launched a £10m relief fund to provide loans for small businesses ravaged by last week’s riots.

The fund will offer loans of up to £25,000, free of interest and fees, to businesses across the country which suffered theft or vandalism during the recent wave of violence.

After six months, businesses which have taken out a relief loan will be asked to repay the money, or transfer to another of RBS’s loan products.

London mayor Boris Johnson, speaking to the London Evening Standard, praised RBS for “recognising its social responsibility”, adding:

“The reality is that, unless we help those small businesses who are the lifeblood of our high streets at a time like this, they will not survive and we will all suffer”.

Rivals banks encouraged to follow suit

Discussing the new relief fund, Chris Sullivan, chief executive of RBS and NatWest’s corporate division, encouraged other banks to follow his company’s lead, adding that “our high streets are vital for local communities and the economic recovery.”

Sullivan’s call has been echoed by the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), the trade body which represents UK lenders.

The BBA has said that Britain’s banks are ready to assist businesses that have suffered loss, damage or significant disruption during the riots, adding that such assistance could take many forms – including short-to-medium term financing for repairs, funding for new security measures and extensions to existing loans.

Angela Knight, chief executive of the BBA, said: “It seems that the majority of businesses affected (by the riots) are small.

“Businesses must contact their insurance company, but at the same time we know that claims take time to process, and we stand ready to help.”

Support from Barclays Business

Knight’s words appear to have been heeded by Barclays Business, which has made its I-sure online data backup facility available free of charge for all UK firms wishing to sign up over the next three months – irrespective of whether they are Barclays customers.

Barclays Business believes the chaos caused by the riots has brought the issue of disaster recovery into sharp relief, and made the value of its disaster recovery services all the more apparent.

Steve Cooper, managing director, Barclays Business said:

“This remains a challenging environment for small businesses and I’m sure (the riots) will have led some owner-managers to consider how they would continue to operate should a disaster hit. By providing I-Sure to all UK businesses, Barclays is giving businesses greater peace of mind about their information security.

“Businesses need to think about protecting their intellectual capital, the hard-won knowledge that keeps their business humming, in exactly the same way that many consider taking out insurance to protect their business from fire. It’s an essential part of being in business, and we’re pleased to play our part in supporting UK businesses with this and through our package of support for businesses and personal customers.”

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