The latest SME credit demand survey has been released today by the Department of Finance.
It covers the period October 2014 to March 2015 and shows that favourable trading conditions remain for SMEs. However, growth is at a lower rate compared to the previous six month period.
The report shows that 84% of SMEs report an increase or stabilization in trading conditions. After an initial boost in recruitment seen when trading conditions began to improve, staff growth has continued, albeit at a less pronounced pace.
Business sentiment for the next 6 months remains positive, with 56% of all SMEs expecting the business climate in Ireland to improve further.
Furthermore, an increase for all SMEs in credit demand from 31% to 32% was recorded. While this is a modest increase, it is the first time in two years that an increase in overall credit demand has been recorded.
Bank lending has remained at the more positive levels seen in the previous period, with 71% of all requests for credit being approved.
At the same time, fewer loans are being approved with conditions attached and the interest rates for approved credit are also declining. Both of these factor should encourage more businesses to avail of credit facilities offered by the banks.
The majority (54%) of SMEs believe that the banks are lending, with only 25% now stating they don’t believe the banks are lending. This view continues to be based on information from third parties, rather than personal experience.
It is also apparent that those SMEs who are applying for credit appear to be looking for larger levels of funds, and are more likely to be testing the water for funds they may not have looked for in the past. This appears to be behind the small increase in decline rates (14%) seen this period.