Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has announced government approval to draft legislation to establish the Credit Review Service as a body corporate, putting it on a legislative footing.

This would also position the Credit Reviewer as the Head of the Service, as well as giving the minister power to extend the scope of the Credit Review Office to include other regulated financial service providers, state bodies and state-supported credit schemes.

The Credit Reviewer was established in 2010 and its key role is to examine credit decisions for SMEs or farm borrowers who have had an application for credit of up to €3 million declined or reduced by participating banks (currently AIB, Bank of Ireland, Permanent TSB and Ulster Bank), and who feel that they have a viable business proposition.

While the Credit Reviewer cannot instruct a participating institution to provide credit, over 90% of the cases Credit Review has supported were successful in securing credit, according to the Department of Finance.

Welcoming government approval to draft the bill, Minister Donohoe said:

“The Credit Reviewer has a vital role in ensuring that viable Irish SMEs and farm borrowers have access to appropriate and sustainable credit to facilitate investment, which will be a key element of our economic recovery and longer-term economic growth.”

€63.2 million credit made available to SMEs and farms

By the end of 2020, 1,165 formal applications had been made since the establishment of the Credit Review Office. 788 have reached final conclusion, figures provided by the Department of Finance show.

The office has upheld appeals in favour of 451 borrowers, including those with a commitment to reassessing the lending in the future if agreed performance hurdles are met in the short-term.

The upheld appeals have resulted in €63.2 million worth of credit being made available to SMEs and farms, helping to protect/create 4,372 jobs, according to the department.