The Minister for Employment and Small Business, Mr Pat Breen, T.D. has today (Tuesday) announced the launch of the new Credit Guarantee Scheme 2017.
Since 2012, Credit Guarantees Schemes have been a key part of the Government’s arsenal of supports for SMEs in Ireland. Some €65 million in bank loans were sanctioned for over 400 SMEs - for Working Capital, Purchase of Equipment, Product or Service Development, Purchase of Premises etc– and created or supported an estimated 2,500+ Irish jobs.
A subsequent Review pointed to a number of ways to further improve take up by SMEs of finance from this source, and the Government successfully piloted amending legislation through the Oireachtas in 2016. The new Scheme that Minister Breen is announcing today uses the new possibilities in the 2016 legislation to carry out the following reforms:-
1. Increase the level of risk of the State will take (80% of individual loans), so as to make it more attractive for finance providers to lend to SMEs;
2. Extend the scope to cover other financial product providers too, like lessors, invoice discounters etc; and
3. Extend the definition of loan agreements to include non-credit products such as invoice finance and leasing, and to include overdrafts.
Commenting on the announcement Minister Breen said: “I welcome this expansion of the Credit Guarantee Scheme, and emphasise the key feature of the Government assuming a higher share of the risk. This move is a vote of confidence by Government in our SMEs, in particular those with novel products and approaches and those somewhat lacking in traditional collateral, and their ability to grow both their businesses and employment levels. I see this new Scheme as the perfect opportunity to completely re-launch the Credit Guarantee product, and I intend to work closely with the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland, the banks and all other finance providers, to ensure a major increase in SME take up of this form of finance. To this end, I am confident that the SBCI, which was made Operator of the Schemes in October 2016, will in the period ahead give effect to the Government’s intentions by offering attractive new products and developing attractive new financial possibilities to our SMEs.”.
Commenting on the announcement, Mr Nick Ashmore, Chief Executive Officer of SBCI said: “As Operator, the SBCI is pleased to support the launch today of the new Credit Guarantee Scheme 2017. The enhanced scheme is tangible evidence of the Government’s commitment to provide ongoing support to SMEs, and complements the existing functions of the SBCI in providing greater access to finance for Irish businesses. The SBCI will work closely with all of the finance providers to deliver the enhanced aspects of the scheme to market as soon as possible.”
Further details on the new Scheme products will be posted on the websites of both Department and the SBCI.
Notes for Editors
At the height of the economic difficulties earlier this decade, Irish SMEs, the sector accounting for almost 70% of all employment here, were finding it impossible to obtain credit from banks. The Government stepped into this breach with a number of measures, including the enactment of the Credit Guarantee Act 2012. Using this legislation, the Credit Guarantee Scheme 2012 came into effect in October 2012, under which the State encouraged the banks to start lending, primarily by sharing with the banks the risk of their loans to SMEs.
While the 2012 Scheme made good progress, a 2014 Review pointed to a number of improvements designed to significantly increase take up under the Scheme. Some of these improvements were provided for by secondary legislation in the new Credit Guarantee Scheme 2015. The performance of the 2012 and 2015 Schemes since October 2012 is summarised in the second paragraph of the body of this Press Release.
However, some of the bigger reforms required amending primary legislation, and this course of action was approved by the Government. During 2015 and 2016, the Credit Guarantee (Amendment) Act 2016, passed through both houses by the Oireachtas, and was enacted and commenced in 2016.
Later in 2016, the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) was appointed Operator of the Schemes, as also mandated by Government, and will now manage the 2012 and 2015 Schemes as they progress and wind down, and will similarly manage the new and enhanced 2017 Scheme.