Bank lending to small businesses is continuing to contract at a "fairly constant rate", Vince Cable has said.
Reforms of the sector in the wake of the financial crash have made it much safer and there is now a "more humble and positive approach to behaviour", the business secretary said.
But small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are still struggling to access cash from lenders, and state-backed Ulster Bank parent Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is one of the problems, he added.
Mr Cable said: "We are often told that the problem is bottoming out but in some ways it isn't.
"In the last 12 months there has only been two months in which that lending has grown."
Gross lending has risen but the net rate is still contracting, he said, adding that Lloyds and Santander are making strides to boost loans to businesses.
"The effects of their contraction has outweighed the growth with the other banks so we still have negative net flows," he added.