Belfast Telegraph

Half small firms 'refused credit'

Half of all small firms who applied for funding in the last three months were refused credit by their bank, it has emerged.

A survey found nine out of 10 businesses also believed banks are making it more difficult to access finance.

Irish Small and Medium Business Enterprise (Isme) claimed access to credit is abysmal, with the application process getting longer.

Mark Fielding, chief executive, said: "We must put an end to the fiction that bailed-out Irish banks are functioning properly.

"It is true that the ATM machines are still open but, as for assisting the SME sector to grow, as for playing their part in the economic recovery, the banks are simply the living dead.

"They restrict credit lines, delay decisions, miss deadlines and generally hinder progress, while they themselves are slow to reform, re-educate or restructure."

More than 900 firms took part in Isme's quarterly bank watch survey, conducted last week.

Some 92% stated the Government was having either a negative or no impact on SME lending.

Mr Fielding added: "The Government must take immediate action and insist on true, reliable and accurate figures from the banks on the real lending to the SME sector."

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