Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Banks not helping SMEs, poll claims

More than half of credit applications by firms in the last three months were refused by financial institutions rescued by the taxpayer, a survey found

Seven out of 10 small businesses struggling to keep trading have claimed bailed-out banks are making it more difficult to access finance.

A survey also found that 54% of credit applications by firms in the last three months have been refused by financial institutions rescued by the taxpayer. Another 44% of companies were hit with increased charges, while 33% suffered a rise in interest rates.

ISME, which represents small and medium enterprises, called on the Government to intervene at board and management level in rescued banks to ensure they are servicing the economy and lending to viable businesses.

Mark Fielding, ISME chief executive, said it suits the administration to believe the fiction created by bankers' spin that the system is functioning.

He added: "The reality is that banks are performing at a very limited capacity in ensuring the payments system and ATMs are functioning, however when it comes to assisting the SME sector to grow, the bailed-out banks are continuing to make it difficult for SMEs to access finance, thereby hindering the economy.

"It is not good enough for politicians or their civil servants to say that they will not intervene and that they 'leave banking to the bankers'. The bailed-out banks are not fixed, rescued bankers continue to utter untruths, banking reform is delayed and banking policy is turning good business bad."

More than 700 firms took part in the survey, which was conducted last week, with 96% stating the Government was having either a negative or no impact on SME lending.

Elsewhere, Richard Bruton, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, launched a new website to cut the amount of red tape on small business by publishing the regulations imposed by more than 30 Government bodies in one place.

The site, www.businessregulation.ie, highlights more than 150 separate links to information, guidance and contact details, reducing the need to trawl through multiple pages on different websites in search of the right information.

Mr Bruton said: "One problem identified by business was the lack of one single online source of information on regulations and how to comply with them, and so today (Monday) we have launched businessregulation.ie so that businesses no longer have to search multiple Government websites to find out their obligations."

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