A new survey from the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association shows an increase in the number of refusals for credit. 

ISME's quarterly Bank Watch survey said that 28% of companies who applied for funding in the last three months were refused credit by their banks, up from 23% in the first quarter of the year.

The survey also revealed an improvement in the time taken from the loan decision to drawdown of credit as well as increased demand for credit.

34% of respondents to the ISME survey required new or additional ban facilities in the three months to June, up from 31% in the previous three month period.

On average, businesses are waiting four weeks for an initial decision on loan applications, while the wait time for drawdown of loans is two weeks. 

The survey also showed that 60% of firms who required funding made a formal application, a decrease from the 72% in the previous three month period. It also noted that informal applications rose from 76% to 88%.

Meanwhile, awareness of the Credit Review Office and the Credit Guarantee Scheme increased, with 77% of SMEs aware of the CRO (up from 73%) and 73% aware of the Credit Guarantee Scheme, up from 66%.

ISME chief executive Neil McDonnell said that access to finance is the top three main concerns of SME owners, behind the cost of doing business and Brexit. 

"While we welcome the increase in demand for credit, the increase in refusals from 233% to 28% is a matter of concern," Mr McDonnell added.

The ISME CEO said that as formal Brexit talks begin, it is vital that small and medium sized businesses are supported in "Brexit proofing" their business - and this starts with accessible finance.