The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME) have today expressed concern at the length of time it is taking for business owners to get credit approval. They are urging businesses to tap alternative sources of finance.
This comes after the release of their latest Quarterly Bank Watch Survey which shows an improvement in the area of refusal rates, but also a drop in demand for credit. The survey interviewed 1,060 respondents in the last week of February.
It shows 31% of respondents required additional or new bank facilities in the last 3 months, compared with 36% in the previous quarter. Twenty three per cent of companies who applied for funding in the last three months were refused credit by their banks, a decrease on the 30% in the fourth quarter.
Furthermore, awareness of government assistance has decreased. Seventy three per cent (78% in Q4) are aware of the Credit Review Office while 66% (68% in Q4) are aware of the Credit Guarantee Scheme and 60% (62% in Q4) know about the Micro Finance scheme.
Speaking today, ISME CEO, Neil McDonnell said, "Access to finance is vital for SME growth and innovation. While the drop in bank declines is welcome, SMEs are still faced with unnecessary delays in accessing credit. SMEs are waiting four weeks for a decision, and a further three weeks to access credit. This is far too long."
He added, "Banks remain the largest lending institutes in Ireland, with 70% of Irish businesses relying on them for finance, compared with 30% in Europe. SMEs must develop alternative sources of finance, such as SBCI and micro-finance schemes."