Thursday, 12 October 2017
Department of Finance
Small and Medium Enterprises
As the Deputy is aware, small and medium sized businesses are critical to the overall wellbeing of the Irish economy and are an important source of employment. Government policy is focused on ensuring that all viable SMEs have access to an appropriate supply of credit from a diverse range of bank and non-bank sources.
My Department conducts a biannual SME Credit Demand Survey. This survey series is the most comprehensive survey of SME credit demand in Ireland, covering over 1,500 respondents and involving over 6,000 direct telephone calls to SMEs. SMEs of all sizes trading in all sectors, excluding property development and speculative activities, and in all regions are included. The latest survey can be found here:
The survey shows that demand for credit amongst the SME sector remains subdued with 20% seeking credit, however, only 1% of the SMEs that did not seek credit stated this was because it was too expensive to borrow. When asked for the reason SMEs did not borrow, 89% of firms reported they did not need to borrow, up 5 percentage points from 84% in March 2016.
The SME State Bodies Group, chaired by my Department, provides a forum for the development and implementation of policy measures to enhance SMEs' access to a stable and appropriate supply of finance. As the Deputy will also be aware, the Action Plan for Jobs over the past number of years has set out a range of commitments to ensure viable SMEs can access appropriate finance at a reasonable cost from both bank and non-bank sources. My Department will also continue to monitor the SME credit lending market in conjunction with the Credit Review Office.
The Government remains committed to the SME sector. I can assure the Deputy that my Department, working with other relevant Departments and Agencies such as the Credit Review Office, will continue to advance policies to support and monitor the availability of both bank and non-bank credit so as to ensure that viable Irish SMEs have sufficient access to finance and can reach their full potential in terms of growth and development.