Lord Sugar defends ΓÇ£dismissiveΓÇ¥ comments of UK small business owners
Small business owners recently reacted angrily to comments by Government Enterprise Champion Lord Sugar, who claimed that too many businesses relied on irresponsible lending by banks, and have been living in an unrealistic “Disney World”.
He reportedly dismissed other struggling small businesses as “moaners”.
Speaking at a conference for SMEs in Manchester, Lord Sugar said: “I can honestly say a lot of problems you hear from people who are moaning are from companies I wouldn’t lend a penny to.”
He continued, “The problem is that some younger people who have lived through the last ten years or so of business, they think the irresponsible manner in which the banks dealt is the norm. Let me tell you,” he continued, “you have lived in the unrealistic Disney World in the way banks dished out money.”
A wave of bad press ensued, in which the Forum of Private Business’ chief executive Phil Orford slammed Lord Sugar’s attitude towards struggling SMEs.
“Lord Sugar’s comments were quite insensitive and completely erroneous on several points,” he said. “Perhaps his ┬ú700 million fortune has dulled his memories of running a small firm and lessened his understanding of the very people the Government hired him to represent.”
Following complaints from FSB members, the small business group then called for Lord Sugar to resign from his Government post as Enterprise Champion.
However, Lord Sugar has defended his comments, saying that his words were misshapen and twisted out of context.
“Basically they’ve taken a lot of my words out of context,” he says, speaking to Camilla Long from The Times. “Suggesting that I have said that 85% of all businesses are not worth lending to, that is absolutely totally wrong. Rubbish.”
He continues, “The fact was, that wasn’t what I said. I took the precaution of recording the whole seminar for this very reason.”
Defending his actions, Lord Sugar sent a copy of the seminar tape to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).
But despite the well-publicised criticisms, Lord Sugar still believes he is right for the job. “I am the man on this subject,” he told The Sunday Times. “I don’t think anyone else can give the depth of advice and experience I have had over the years.”
Read more on our small business portal: Will Lord Sugar take the sweet with the sour?
What are your views on the subject – were his comments harsh and unsupportive, or a necessary shake-up for the SME community? Get in touch below.