Tuesday 20 March 2018

Bank lending to SMEs down 5pc despite "open for business" claims

Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

IRISH banks’ lending to small business fell 5pc last year, despite lenders’ claims they are “open for business”.

Statistics from the Central Bank show that banks doled out credit worth €25.7bn to non-financial, non-property related small and medium enterprises during 2012.

That was a decline of 5pc compared to 2011 and the pace of decline continued through the end of the year.

Credit advanced to all non-financial, non-property related enterprises declined by €243m over the last three months of 2012, and €2.2bn over the year – a decline of 5.3pc, bringing total credit outstanding to non-financial, non-property related enterprises to €38.1bn. This follows annual declines of 4.9pc and 5.9pc at end-June and end-September, respectively.

The figures will end credence to complaints from small business groups that the banks are still not lending enough, even as lenders maintain they are ready to lend to viable businesses.

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