Belfast Telegraph

Bailed out banks 'refusing credit'

Bailed out banks have refused credit to more than a third of small companies, a study has found.

Even though lending rates have improved in recent months, the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (Isme) said 38% of firms were still being turned down.

Isme described the number of refusals as a "cause for concern" and claimed the government should do more to help.

Mark Fielding, Isme chief executive, said: "As far as the economy in 2015 is concerned, while optimism is increasing, SMEs are still struggling with high business costs, wage pressures and reduced (albeit improved) access to credit. Until these recurring issues are properly addressed there will not be sustainable growth within the SME economy and job creation will be delayed.

"We must have restraint from the 'pay-rise, if I'm elected' group in cabinet, otherwise auction politics will ruin any semblance of recovery, potentially sending us back, cap-in-hand, to the Troika" concluded Fielding."

In its latest government satisfaction survey Isme found that the overall satisfaction from SME owner-managers had improved in the last two years but dipped during the latter part of 2014.

Micro businesses were least happy with medium-sized businesses claiming to be "quite satisfied".

Retail was the worst affected sector, while the hospitality industry reported most satisfaction - reflecting improved trade in and the retention of the 9% VAT.

Mr Fielding said the areas of high dissatisfaction with the government performance were indicative of the obstacles facing SMEs particularly around business costs and competitiveness in the export market.

He said: "Government needs to refrain from pre-election posturing in 2015 and to focus instead on real reform, based on sound economic principles and not sound-bites.

"The popularity politics of giveaway budgets and unsustainable pay promises holds little sway with SME owner-managers who are increasingly frustrated by the lack of innovative initiatives aimed at developing the sector. High business costs make it difficult to compete on the export market and increased wage pressures are making it impossible for SMEs to expand their workforce.

"Signs of recovery are very welcome but incessant calls for wage increases from ministers, who should know better, are premature.

"SMEs are still weathering a storm and need breathing space to rebuild their businesses and invest to grow. Government must commit to providing a SME focused business environment in which micro, small and medium enterprises can expand."

Following last year's focus on reducing unemployment levels, there was some satisfaction with the government's performance on the jobs front.


From Belfast Telegraph