€150m low-cost loan scheme fund fully depleted

The €150m low-cost loan scheme has been exhausted, with the recent announcement that Ulster Bank’s funding allocation has been fully utilised.

Ulster Bank confirmed that its funding allocation under the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) Agriculture Cashflow Support Loan Scheme has been exhausted.

From March 7, new applications for loans under the scheme are being provisionally accepted and will be placed on a waiting list, in the event of any residual funding becoming available, according to Ulster Bank.

There has a been a huge amount of interest in the scheme, Managing Director of Ulster Bank’s Commercial Banking Division, Eddie Cullen, said.

“There has been significant demand from our customers for the SBCI Agriculture Cashflow Support Loan  scheme and our team of Agriculture Specialists, who are all qualified through our unique Agri-Accreditation Programme, are helping farmers through the process and talking to them about their financial needs.

“We are delighted to be partnered with the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland and it is just one of a number of supports we have in place dedicated to farmers, such as our Dairy Toolkit, Pasture Loan, and our Cashflow planner,” he said.

Ulster Bank has taken a similar stance to Bank of Ireland, in that it will continue to accept new applicants to the scheme on a provisional basis, where as AIB has decided to stop accepting applications.

The scheme was launched to allow farmers and agri-business SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) to borrow up to €150,000 at a special low rate of 2.95% to address the difficult market conditions that they have faced recently.

Supply for these loans was strictly limited to €150m, the SBCI Chief Executive, Nick Ashmore, recently said.

The scheme was announced in the Government’s 2017 Budget and was developed in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

It aims to support farmers experiencing short-term financial pressure, due to price and income volatility.

The loans were designed to enable farmers to plan and budget more effectively, by providing an attractive alternative to more expensive forms of credit such as merchant credit and bank overdraft facilities.