Business owners are reporting high refusal rates, over 50%, in their applications for credit from banks.
Isme, the group which represents small and medium enterprises, says the results of its latest quarterly survey of members indicate a drop in demand for lending but also widespread "refusal of credit".
The survey results are based on 1,134 responses from Isme members, 15% of its membership base. Isme says this represents a "strong indication of the real SME lending environment".
The results show 52% of those respondents who applied for credit during the past three months were refused. That's down slightly from the 53% refusal rate recorded in a similar Isme survey over the previous quarter.
Isme says demand for lending has also fallen with 35% of respondents to its survey saying they had requested new or additional bank facilities during the quarter, down from 39% in the previous survey.