The Credit Review Office has said that banks are becoming generally supportive towards small and medium enterprises. 

However, in its latest and 14th report, the office said that challenges remain for those SMEs which have been distressed but are now recovering, and are viable or potentially viable - particularly those with property debt overhangs. 

In his latest report, John Trethowan said he was surprised by recent criticism of the CRO by Bank of Ireland's chief executive Richie Boucher.

Mr Trethowan said the bank had not previously communicated any concerns to the CRO in its regular meetings with the bank.

The CRO noted that in 85% of the cases where it has overturned the bank's lending decisions, the business which had originally been turned down for a loan continues to trade successfully.

The office said continues to monitor the level of funding by both AIB and Bank of Ireland on a monthly basis and it said this year is showing record levels of sanctioning activity.

This is due to the economic recovery, refinancing of exiting bank debt and the remaining long term debt restructuring of distressed SMEs, it added.

The CRO noted that the level of "new money" being lent by each of the banks is also at the highest level since monitoring started in 2010, although some of this includes refinancing activity from existing banks. 

The Credit Review Office was established to help SME or farmers who have had an application for credit of up to €3m declined or reduced, and who feel that they have a viable business proposition. 

It also looks at cases where borrowers feel that the terms and conditions of their existing loan, or a new loan offer, are unfairly onerous or have been unreasonably changed to their detriment. 

A recent Department of Finance survey revealed that 64% of SMEs who responded were aware of the Credit Review Office, but 62% of companies said they were not made aware of the office by their banks. 

The Office said it is seeing the impact of the recovery in the improving financial figures on those businesses which have asked for their case to be reviewed. 2013 saw the adverse trading conditions in Ireland bottom out, and the financial and management accounts for this year are showing improved turnover an profitability.

In the months from the end of March to October, the CRO received 520 formal applications. Of these, 316 reached a final conclusion and the office had upheld 56% of the appeals in favour of borrowers. 

The upheld appeals have resulted in €29.7m credit being made available to SMEs and farms, which the CRO helped to protect and/or create 2,091 jobs.