Thursday, 16 December 2021
Department of Finance
Small and Medium Enterprises
As Minister for Finance, one of my main concerns is to ensure that SMEs have access to sufficient liquidity, and that access to credit for SMEs is maintained. My Department commissions a survey biannually to monitor SME credit levels which are published on www.Gov.ie. Furthermore, since the onset of COVID-19 restrictions the Government has introduced a range of measures to assist companies and to ensure that they have access to sufficient liquidity. This include loan schemes available through the SBCI, which support the provision of appropriately priced, flexible funding to Irish SMEs.
SME borrowers who are applying for, or have accessed, credit continue to have regulatory protections via the Central Bank's SME lending regulations. The SME Regulations, which are available at centralbank.ie/news/article/regulations-for-firms-lending-to-smes-from-2016set out the required treatment of SMEs by regulated entities in relation to various aspects of business lending. This includes detailed provisions around the credit application process, requirements regarding security or collateral, credit refusals and withdrawals, handling complaints, managing arrears and having in place policies for engaging with SMEs in financial difficulty. The options could include additional flexibility, and this could be a short-term arrangement such as additional periods without payments or interest-only repayments, or if appropriate more long term arrangements.
In addition, the Credit Review Office was established to assist those SMEs and farm borrowers that have had credit applications of up to €3 million refused or indeed an existing credit facility withdrawn or amended by the participating bank. SMEs can apply to Credit Review Office after exhausting the internal appeals process in the participating institution, which are currently AIB, BOI, Ulster Bank and Permanent TSB. Further information is available at www.creditreview.ie
I will continue to work to ensure that access to credit for SMEs is maintained. I also continue to work with the Central Bank, as regulator, to ensure that the relevant Central Bank protections and other applicable frameworks will be fully available to borrowers.