Lord Young 'technically correct' says Paphitis

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Indy Politics

Business mogul Theo Paphitis has defended Lord Young's comments that most people have "never had it so good", claiming Prime Minister David Cameron's former enterprise tsar was "technically correct".

In an open interview about the state of the nation's economy, the Dragons' Den star said Britons were generally better off in this recession than in the last and raised questions over why the Government adviser was fired.

Multi-millionaire Paphitis also stated that he would rather stick pins in his eyes than take a role advising the Government on the economy.

"What has happened in this recession has never happened before," he told BBC Radio 5 Live's Stephen Nolan Programme.

"In the last recession, interest rates were up to 50% so, if you had a mortgage, all your income went on paying it. Now our mortgages have gone down because interest rates have gone down to practically zilch, so of course we have had more disposable income.

"So, technically, those of us who have a job and are still in in work, and not worried about losing our job, have actually been better off, so he (Lord Young) was technically correct. So why did we fire him?"

Paphitis, whose business empire spans retail, property, finance and consumer goods and has revived the fortunes of notable retail brands such as Ryman, La Senza Lingerie and Partners the Stationers, also said people should not be too worried about the so-called economic crisis.

"We are not entering the abyss and we have got to be careful we don't actually self-fulfil some nasty prophecies by getting miserable and worrying about too many things," he said.

"Unemployment is a key issue. If we can keep people in jobs we have got absolutely nothing to worry about. What we shall not be having is the same growth we have enjoyed recently. The only danger the Government have is unemployment. If we keep that in check, we will be fine."

Referring back to the comments made by Lord Young, which provoked a furious public reaction, the businessman said he would "rather stick pins in my eyes" than take a role advising the Government on the economy.

"My worry is they are going to put some half-wit in now that Lord Young has gone. He was a very experienced businessman and politician as well," added Paphitis.

Lord Young resigned from his role on Friday after telling the the Daily Telegraph that low interest rates meant home-owners were actually better off thanks to the "so-called recession".

He dismissed the 100,000 job cuts expected each year in the public sector as being "within the margin of error" in the context of a 30 million-strong workforce and said that complaints about spending cuts came from "people who think they have a right for the State to support them".

The 78-year-old former trade and industry secretary in Margaret Thatcher's government also said people would look back on the recession and "wonder what all the fuss was about".

Mr Cameron said today he was "sad" about Lord Young's resignation but that it had been the "right outcome".

Speaking to Sky News, the Prime Minister said: "He made some very ill-chosen, unwise and wrong remarks, he immediately withdrew and apologised.

"He also then offered his resignation which I accepted which I think was the right thing to do.

"I'm sad about it because he is... he did a brilliant report on health and safety, cracking a problem that's bedevilled governments for a long time.

"In politics what you say does matter, so I think the right outcome has been reached."

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