The Government is bring forward draft legislation that will put the Credit Review Office (CRO) on a statutory footing.

The decision to turn the CRO into a body corporate was approved by cabinet today.

Under the changes, the Credit Reviewer will become the head of the service.

The Minister for Finance will also be given powers to extend the scope of the CRO to other regulated financial service providers, state bodies and credit schemes backed by the state.

The CRO was set up eleven years ago to examine credit decisions for small and medium sized businesses and farm borrowers.

Its remit extended to loan applications of up to €3m that had been declined or reduced by the bank being applied to.

1,165 formal applications have been made since the establishment of the CRO in 2010 with 788 reaching final conclusion.

Appeals in favour of 451 borrowers have been upheld, resulting in €63.2m in credit being made available to SMEs and farms.

It is estimated that this has helped to protect or create 4,372 jobs.

Currently AIB, Bank of Ireland, Permanent TSB and Ulster Bank fall within the remit of the CRO.

The Credit Reviewer cannot order an institution to provide credit, but in more than 90% of the cases supported by them credit has successfully been secured.