By Claire West
William Chase, Founder of Tyrrells has called on prime minister David Cameron to force tax-payer owned Lloyds Banking Group to do more to help small businesses.
“How can Lloyds join in on the stubbornness of the rest of the banks and not provide loans to SMEs, when it’s 41% tax-payer owned?” says the founder of Tyrrells Crisps and Chase Vodka.
Having sold 75 per cent of Tyrrells Crisps to a private equity firm for £40m in 2008, Chase himself is financially secure and not in need of assistance. He also has a mixed history with the banks that now comprise Lloyds Banking Group. In 1993 he was bankrupted by Lloyds for £100,000, while 14 years later he won a Sunday Times Corporate Entrepreneur Challenge that came with a prize of a three-year, £5m interest-free loan from HBOS (now part of Lloyds Banking Group). This loan helped Chase establish his award-winning Chase vodka, made from the same Herefordshire potatoes as his crisps.
“David Cameron has a duty to make state-owned Lloyds Banking Group (Lloyds TSB and HBOS) lend to small to medium-size businesses at favourable rates,” says Chase. “It can’t just be take, take, take. Everyone is tightening their belts and something has to be given back to businesses. The French government have got the banks lending to SMEs, the life-blood of the economy, especially assisting with exports. Why can’t Cameron do it with Lloyds Banking Group, which is virtually owned by the tax payer? Cameron needs to prove his worth and get the bank he owns working harder for British SMEs.”
Banks run by investment bankers are less likely to heed the concerns of entrepreneurial business owners without some encouragement to do so. And without the support of the banks, many of these growing businesses won’t survive. And if we do finally get back to something like business as usual, I’d much rather that it was the sort of creative, productive business that will drive the UK economy forward in a sustainable fashion.