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Minister Donohoe welcomes latest SME Credit Demand Survey

The Department of Finance has today published the latest SME Credit Demand Survey. It covers the period between October 2021 and March 2022. This survey series is currently conducted by Behaviour and Attitudes on behalf of the Department of Finance. It is the most comprehensive survey of SME Credit Demand in Ireland, covering over 1,500 respondents through in-depth discussions. The survey captures a full picture of the SME landscape in Ireland, with micro enterprises, small-sized enterprises and medium-sized enterprises accurately represented as per the percentage make-up of SMEs in Ireland.

The survey is conducted biannually and historically for presentation purposes the report uses year-on-year comparisons.


Key results include:

  • 16% of SMEs applied for bank credit (-4%, March 2021).
  • 5% of SMEs applied for non-bank finance.
  • 76% of SMEs reported that sufficient internal funds was the reason for not seeking credit.
  • 45% of all businesses reported increased turnover in the six months up to March 2022 with 18% reporting a decrease. This is a significant improvement from the low levels recorded in March 2021.
  • All sectors reported an improvement in turnover performance compared to March 2021. The biggest improvement was seen for the Hotel and restaurant (66%) sector.
  • 61% of SMEs reported profit during 2022, compared to 53% in 2021. 10% reported a loss in 2022 while 25% broke even.
  • Two-thirds of SMEs agree that investing in climate change adaptation is important.
  • For 38% of SMEs, energy costs were less than 2% of cost of sales, while for 26% the energy costs were between 2-5% of cost of sales. For 9%, energy costs are more than 10% of cost of sales.
  • Electricity costs are a significant proportion of total energy costs.
  • 35% of SMEs have committed funds to invest in energy efficiency over the next year.

On the publication of the SME Credit Demand Survey Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe T.D. stated:

“I welcome the results of the latest SME Credit Demand Survey, October 2021 – March 2022. The survey gives an insight into how SMEs in Ireland are continuing to demonstrate resilience as they adapt to challenges arising from Brexit, the pandemic and most recently from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  

The SME Credit Demand Survey series is an invaluable resource that allows us to develop, refine and implement policy measures to support our indigenous businesses and allows the Department of Finance gain an essential understanding of the Irish SME environment.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the SMEs that took part in this survey for their time.”



SME- Credit Demand Survey - October 2021 - March 2022


Note for Editors:

Background of Report

The SME Credit Demand Survey has been conducted biannually since 2011 to monitor trends in access to credit by SMEs. Please note while the survey is conducted on a 6 monthly basis, for presentation purposes, the report uses year-on-year comparisons.

The report published today presents the results from the SME Credit Demand Survey October 2021 – March 2022. Conducted by Behaviour and Attitudes, all interviews were conducted between the 16th April and 1st June 2022 and covered the period from October 2021 to March 2022

The Department of Finance has conducted the SME Credit Demand Survey in order to have an independent and statistically significant report into the Irish SME landscape and the availability of, and demand for, credit that exists for SMEs. The survey was conducted through a telephone survey covering over 1,500 businesses. It drew a carefully constructed sample from a large database of SMEs, made repeated calls to ensure a full response and asked factual questions. The full questionnaire is included in the report. The report and previous reports are available on the Department of Finance website at

Summary and key findings

This report contains the results of the Department of Finance SME Credit Demand Survey. All interviews were conducted between the 6th April and 1st June 2022 and covered the period from October 2021 to March 2022. Throughout the report, the most recent wave of findings (referred to as March 2022) is compared with corresponding waves. This ensures that historical comparisons are being made on a like-for-like basis, taking any seasonal issues into account.

Please note that due to Covid-19 restrictions, no interviewing was possible for the same period in 2020.

A new question was introduced specifically in relation to demand for non-bank finance to reflect a growing market share for this source of finance. In addition, questions on climate change investment, energy costs and plans to invest in energy efficiency were added to this wave.

Demand for Bank Finance:  

  • Credit demand from banks was lower in March 2022 than March 2021, with 16% having applied for bank finance in the March 2022 period compared to 20% in March 2021. Credit demand remained unchanged at 20% among medium-sized companies, with the decline driven by micro (12%) and small businesses (18%).
  • Expected future demand for credit remained stable, with 12% of all SMEs expecting to apply for finance in the following six months, down from 13% during the corresponding period in 2021.This is higher among medium size companies (16%).
  • The main stated reason for not seeking credit was a simple lack of credit requirements due to sufficient internal funds, a reason cited by 76% of businesses not seeking credit (up from 72% in March 2021).
  • Of the companies which had requested bank finance in the previous six months, new loans and leasing or hire purchase were the main bank finance products requested.
  • The most significant decrease in credit demand by sector was from Hotels and Restaurants (down from 26% to 10%) and Construction (down from 26% to 19%). Demand for credit was highest for Manufacturing at 22% (down 1% vs March 2021) and construction at 19% (down 7% vs 26% in 2021).
  • The average reported cost of credit on outstanding loans was 4.59% – a decrease from 4.9% in March 2021.
  • Just 2% of SMEs reported having missed repayments of bank loans in the period - a decrease from 5% in March 2021.

 Demand for Non-Bank Finance:

  • 5% of SMEs applied for non-bank finance in the six months period up to March 2022. 
  • Of those who applied for non-bank finance, 89% were approved fully, 1% partially, while 6% were refused. 3% of the applications were still pending at the time of the interview.
  • Of those who applied for non-bank finance, 54% applied due to working capital requirements, with 24% applying due to a new business venture/expansion/purchase of assets or equipment. Just 2% applied due to a need to restructure current loans/credit.
  • The most common non-bank finance requested are new loans (35%) and leasing/hire purchase (26%).

The Application Process

  • Of those companies that have requested bank finance, business expansion, working capital and new machinery/equipment were cited as the main reasons for making a finance request.
  • The average value of a credit application for new finance was €353,577, up notably from €163,550 in March 2021. The average value of applications for renewal/restructuring of existing finance was €41,538, down notably from €180,260 in March 2021.
  • Of those applying for bank finance, 35% had to provide some type of collateral, with the main collateral types required being accounts receivable, buildings, machinery and equipment, and personal assets. The average value of collateral required as a percentage of loan was 59% – rising to 77% for micro sized applicants.
  • 58% of all finance applications were processed within the stipulated 15 working days of receipt of all information from the company, down slightly from 60% in March 2021.
  • The average amount of time from application to decision was 22 working days, compared to 24 working days in March 2021. The proportion of loans that were still pending stood at just 6% (7% in March 2021). 
  • The proportion of credit applications declined stood at 11% in March 2022, the same level as recorded in March 2021. Decline rates were lowest amongst the Manufacturing, Construction and Business Services sectors. Highest decline rates were in for Hotels & Restaurants (40%).
  • In March 2022, 45% of SMEs that were refused credit reported that they were informed of their right to an internal review. This figure was 43% for March 2021, although it should be noted that this calculation is based on a very small base size.


SME Supports and Initiatives 

  • A large majority of SMEs are aware of Government supports such as Enterprise Ireland (91%), Local Enterprise Offices (83%), and the Credit Guarantee Scheme (66%).
  • Following the extensive Covid-19 supports provided to companies during the pandemic, we see relatively low levels of applications for other Government Support Schemes. 1% of the SMEs surveyed applied for the Credit Guarantee Scheme, with 9% having applied for other Government financial support. This includes both loans schemes and other financial support. A total of 12% of SMEs applied for Government Support Schemes.