“Moaning” Entrepreneurs Hit Back at Lord Sugar
Business groups have criticised Lord Sugar for dismissing struggling small-business owners as "moaners", and saying that they have no reason for complaining during the recession.
Speaking at a conference for small and medium-sized businesses in Manchester, the Government’s enterprise champion and star of The Apprentice, Alan Sugar, said just 15% of those who had been refused credit during the downturn had real grounds for complaint.
The remaining 85%, he said, needed an "insolvency practitioner", rather than more credit.
Sugar was also dismissive of protests over bank lending to small businesses, claiming that many concerns over lending were down to younger business owners, who had only ever known the "Disney World" credit conditions of the past decade.
"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," said Sugar.
"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," he added. "Let me tell you, you lived in the Disney World, you have lived in the unrealistic Disney World in the way banks dished out money."
The Forum of Private Business‘ chief executive, Phil Orford, said Lord Sugar’s comments were misguided and showed a worryingly dismissive attitude to the problems experienced by small firms.
"Lord Sugar’s comments were quite insensitive and completely erroneous on several points," he said. "Perhaps his £700 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."
The Federation of Small Businesses‘ spokesman, Stephen Alambritis, also criticised Lord Sugar, saying he had no grasp of the hard work carried out by small businesses in the UK.
"Most small firms live in the real world, not Disney World, and they lie at the heart of our economy," he said. "They are not moaners, and the fact is they are working hard in difficult times and they need help from our banks."
Following complaints from FSB members, the small business group has called for Lord Sugar to resign from his post as enterprise champion.
Who, if anyone, is going to turn to Lord Sugar and say