Thursday, 5 November 2009

Enterperise Biz-Tsar

It's good to know that our Enterprise Tsar, Lord Sugar, is there batting for all us small businessmen in his role to advise the Government on such matters that affect us.

His professional and positive approach was to explete vehemently with his back to the camera when asked, at an Exhibition on How To Survive a Recession, what did he advise for businesses in the recession. He then came back to the camera, visibly upset, to say we should stop talking about a recession as there is not one. Despite the fact his own Government's figures tell us that, in fact, we are still in one.

During his speech in Cambridge he was critical of small businessmen who 'whinged' and implored they should get on and 'adapt'.

While his bull faced staring down of the recession is a positive and bold attitude, calling small businessmen whingers in the face of their pleas to be heard by the Government was not exactly what people wanted to hear - except those who could afford to be at the exhibition. Once again, it is worth reminding ourselves, Lord Sugar and the Government that small businesses represent 97% of all the companies in Britain and employ 13m people, paying a disproportionate amount of tax into the coffers via Corporation and PAYE tax. In the scheme of the vast stimulus packages wasted on the financial system, the amount of credit to such businesses has been reduced by nearly £15bn this year. It is not even a small crumb of comfort that interest rates have been again pegged at 0.5% and QE has been increased by £25bn when most of that aid does not flow into the economy at large.

It would help if an Enterprise Tsar stopped representing his own views and values and understand how this recession is affecting small businesses, many of whom will not survive this year and have contributed disproportionally to the rising figure on unemployment.

To take just one example from the weekend's papers. Small, independent shop owners have gone to the wall at an alarming rate this year while huge supermarkets announce growing profits and sales - over 500,000 have lost their jobs in that sector alone and some 12,000 businesses have failed. Tesco, Waitrose and even Marks & Spencer, meanwhile, have thrived.

Perhaps Lord Sugar should down into the detail and look at which businesses have been favoured in the stimulus strategy. No doubt, companies like Viglen, which he owns, have benefited nicely from increased Government spend in the schools sector.

For a man who is normally well at ease when he has plenty of script to work with in front of the cameras, he was pretty poor when asked about his supposed specialist subject ad hoc.

No comments: