Wednesday 18 October 2017

Doubts cast on accuracy of Red C survey on lending to small firms

Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

DOUBTS have been raised about the accuracy of the latest survey of lending to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) after it emerged that a number of much bigger companies and individuals who do not run firms have been contacted as part of the survey.

The biannual study investigating the controversial subject of bank lending to SMEs was carried out by the accountants Mazars on behalf of the Department of Finance up until last month. However, Red C Research has now won the contract to carry out the important survey.

However, concerns have been raised about the veracity of any report Red C may produce because large companies employing more than 250 people, and individuals who are not running companies, have been phoned by Red C and asked to to take part in survey.

SMEs are classed as firms with a maximum of 250 employees, or turnover of €250m. Companies with larger numbers of staff or individuals who are not running companies should not be contacted by Red C.

The survey's results are split three ways between micro companies with only a few employees, small firms with tens of staff, and then the larger companies approaching the maximum 250 permitted employees.

ISME CEO Mark Fielding said the news that the survey could be inaccurate was "disturbing".

"The report on SME lending is important for giving us some idea on the state of SME lending, so it is vital it is seen to be accurate," he said.

A spokesman for the Department of Finance dismissed suggestions there could be a problem with the report. A Red C spokesman said he was confident the survey was being run in the correct manner.

Irish Independent

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