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Assessment of the Credit Review Office – Consultation Process

The Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan T.D., is calling for suggestions from members of the public on what more the Credit Review Office can do to ensure SMEs are getting the support on bank lending they require.

The Minister explained:

“The Action Plan for Jobs 2012 contains a commitment to assess the Credit Review Office to ensure SMEs are getting the support on bank lending they require. Following a tender process, Grant Thornton won the contract to carry out the assessment and produced a report containing a number of valuable recommendations.

I would like to open up the process to members of the public who feel they have suggestions which could further enhance the work of the CRO in ensuring SMEs are getting the support on bank lending they require. I would particularly invite SMEs who have direct experience of the CRO to make a contribution. All suggestions put forward will be considered with an open mind as we are trying to get as many ideas as possible which will develop new thinking on the issue. Suggestions can be as short or as long as applicants wish.”

Suggestions could be put forward in relation to:

The review process- Does the CRO process work from the viewpoint of the borrower? What changes should be made to it? What more could be done to increase the number of reviews?

The remit of the CRO- Does the CRO do all the things that it should to assist the flow of credit to SMEs? Should its remit be expanded and extra powers be granted, and into what areas? Where should the CRO be positioned in the overall structure of State advice and assistance to SMEs? Would a specific link to the Central Bank or to Community Enterprise Boards assist in improving accessibility to the service? Should the thresholds for review be increased? Is the charging mechanism appropriate?

An email address has been set up

which will accept suggestions from all interested people or groups. The email box will remain open until 21 December 2012.

Notes for Editors:

The Action Plan for Jobs 2012 contains the following commitment:

“3.40 Assess the Credit Review Office to ensure SMEs are getting the support on bank lending they require.”

The Department of Finance contracted Grant Thornton Consultants to carry out the assessment.

The assessment found that the CRO:

•           is contributing to ensuring that credit is not refused to viable businesses with valid credit propositions;

•           is going a long way to assisting the Minister of Finance in facilitating the availability of credit;

•           has completed a significant examination of the lending policies of the banks resulting in positive developments.

It lists areas in which the CRO has made a positive contribution including:

•           the impact that it has on organisational and behavioural issues at the banks;

•           the benefit to all stakeholders of an independent monitoring and challenging of credit demand and supply issues and recommendation for improvement in these areas; and

•           the availability of a central point of contact for applicants in difficulty and the support provided to these applicants by the CRO over and above the provision of credit to the organisations concerned.

The main recommendations to emerge from the report are as follows:

·         Review the CRO application process;

·         CRO initiated review of certain cases following the bank internal appeals process;

·         Increased proactive profile raising and stakeholder support of CRO;

·         Leveraging the visibility/expertise of the CRO;

·         Revise the CRO quarterly reports;

·         Expand the number of participating banks;

·         Increase the resources of the CRO to meet its expanded remit.