I propose to take Questions Nos. 217 and 218 together.
The SME Credit Guarantee Scheme (CGS) was established under the Credit Guarantee Act 2012, to address specific market failures in lending to SMEs and in response to calls from business interests. It is a novel Scheme in an Irish context and it is currently developing a position in the Irish financial arena.
My Department, along with the CGS operator, Capita, and the participating lenders has committed significant time and resources to the establishment and operation of this Scheme. While demand for the scheme has been lower than anticipated, it has, nonetheless to year end 31 December 2013 supported additional lending of some €9.788 million to 72 companies and supported 409 new jobs, while maintaining 236 jobs. The recently completed review of the Scheme has recommended some changes that could lead to increased take-up if they are addressed. We are nearing completion of the review process, having consulted widely with stakeholders on the proposed changes. I will shortly be bringing a Memorandum to Government seeking approval to amend the Credit Guarantee Act and I am confident that the necessary legislative amendments will be made by the Oireachtas in the coming months, with a view to the earliest possible re-launch of the scheme.
The Microenterprise Loan Fund is aimed at a very different type of enterprise and was introduced following demands from business interests for the introduction of supports for microenterprises in a difficult economic environment. Microfinance Ireland (MFI) has now developed a presence in the Irish financial market. To year-end 31 December 2013 €2.159 million has been approved to 137 microenterprises supporting 310 jobs. While take-up is lower than expected, the Scheme is demand-led and may be a reflection of the muted level of demand for credit as evidenced in the Department of Finance commissioned SME Credit Demand Surveys.
I intend to commence a review of the operation of the Microenterprise Loan Fund Acts 2012 by Q2 2014. The purpose of the review will be to seek to enhance the uptake and impact of the Fund and I can assure the Deputy that I will take all recommendations into consideration with a view to improving the overall take-up of the Fund.