Belfast Telegraph

Bankers reject 'loans-block' claims

Bankers have disputed the findings of a new survey showing almost half of small businesses in Ireland are being refused loans.

Isme, which represents small and medium sized firms, said there was an alarming rise in the number of its members being refused credit.

A poll found 48% of companies were denied changes in their banking facilities while lenders were cutting overdraft facilities and hiking charges.

Almost eight in every 10 business owners surveyed complained that banks were making it more difficult to get credit.

Mark Fielding, Isme chief executive, said the findings clearly exposed the refusal of "backsliding, arrogant and downright disobedient" banks to begin lending again to companies struggling to survive the downturn.

"It is quite clear that the previous administration's instructions to open up lines of credit to business have patently been ignored by the banks," he said.

"Nothing new there. The new government must take a much stronger position with bailed out bank management and insist on their compliance with instructions."

But the Irish Banking Federation (IBF) rejected the findings as "highly misleading".

Claiming they were based on "spurious research", IBF chief executive Pat Farrell said banks were making up to 14 billion euro in increased credit available to small businesses.

"Alone among the business representative voices, the Isme position is actually doing a disservice to small and medium-sized business in this country by discouraging credit applications," he said.

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