Lord Digby Jones attacks UK failure to support struggling businesses

Lord Digby Jones, former Business Ambassador at UK Trade & Investment, has said that the UK Government and British industry must do more to protect and turn around failing businesses.

Speaking at the Institute for Turnaround (IFT) 2014 National Conference, Lord Jones said that the country has become far too risk averse, and has lost an understanding of the risks that are necessary in business to create the sorts of rewards and innovations that we have become accustomed to.

Lord Jones commented: “It is a sad fact of life that twenty-first century democratic capitalism has become so risk-averse, so politically-correct, so prey to the siren voices of a compensation culture – the likes of which we have never seen before.”

Lord Jones argued that sentiment in government and society as a whole has become too critical of small businesses and unforgiving of the inherent pitfalls that exist for small companies. “With any small business, especially one in its early stages, there are obstacles to overcome and calculated risks that must be taken in order to generate wealth. Too often the emphasis is put on failing businesses – without the appreciation that there always exists a risk-reward aspect to growth and generating profits.”

When we understand the inherent risk in business, Lord Digby continued: “we understand that not all businesses will succeed, and when they do not, they need skill, courage and capital to give them the time necessary to review options, take advice from others and turn around their fortunes”.

In his speech addressing Turnaround professionals at the conference, Lord Jones spoke about the value that such professionals have in the role they play helping to save these failing businesses.

“The livelihoods of the many, the tax receipts for HMG and the very vibrancy of local communities can depend on the quality of such advice, on the clarity of planning and the efficacy of execution” Lord Jones will say.

Christine Elliott, CEO of the IFT, said: “For SMEs and mid-market firms, the recession has re-set the business landscape for the next decade. Access to finance remains limited, which in turn restricts growth and limits investment into businesses, their employees and the wider economy. It is no surprise that many businesses remain dormant under these circumstances.

“Furthermore, managing uncertainty and operating in an economic environment where the strength and depth of the recovery remains unclear is a serious challenge. Growing a company is a necessity not an option – once you stop, backsliding is inevitable. All companies must grasp their opportunities, and be allowed to take calculated risks, simply to keep going.

Rather than turn our backs on struggling companies, our aim should be to help them achieve sustainable growth for the long term, through effective government policy, the skills of turnaround professionals and wider support.”

The IFT 2014 National Conference will bring together a selection of speakers spanning a spectrum of public and private sector organisations, professional bodies and government. Delegates will have the opportunity to hear from these inspirational speakers as well as discuss their own experiences in a thought-provoking afternoon and evening of knowledge, experience, discussion and business networking.