A new survey from ISME, the Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association, shows that overall satisfaction with the Government's performance is at its highest level since the survey started in 2012.

However, the latest Government Satisfaction Survey also shows that business costs and the Government's dealings with the banks continue to be a cause of concern for SMEs.

The satisfaction rating is made up from four specific questions on the Government's performance in dealing with jobs, banking, business costs and overall performance. 

Today's survey shows that the overall satisfaction rating increased by nine points from +2 to +11. ISME noted that the larger the enterprise the more positive their satisfaction ratings.

There was also a large increase in satisfaction ratings of the Government's handling of the jobs situation, with the survey showing the highest score since the beginning of the survey in 2012.

The rating has gone from +9 to +22, which ISME said reflected the slow but steady decline in numbers signing on the Live Register and the positive press announcements.

But ISME said the reading for the banking sector of the survey decreased slightly from -47 to -48. It said that SMEs' access to finance had been improving but an increase in declines has been noted in recent months. 

The survey also examined how satisfied SMEs are with the Government's handling of the economy.

The +18 rating shows very high levels of satisfaction and reflects the improvements seen in the economy during 2015. This is also the highest since the survey began in 2012.

The worst performing indicator was the business costs - which fell to -52 from -47 - and which continued to be the highest rated reason for dissatisfaction with the current administration. .

ISME said it is concerned that Ireland is rapidly losing its competitive edge and called again on the Government to conduct a review of all business costs to bring them into line with the country's main export competitors.

"External factors continue to assist the economy and the growth rate reflects this. Favourable exchange rates with and growth in our major export countries and low oil prices have given us a boost as we come out of the recession," commented ISME's CEO Mark Fielding. 

"While we can benefit from these factors, they are completely outside of our control. The factors within our control, business costs and access to finance, need much more work by Government and, if not addressed, will cause untold damage as the economic cycle unfolds," he cautioned.