UK lending down

24-08-2006

The number and value of mortgages being taken out in the UK decreased on a like for like basis during April, with unsecured lending to individuals also falling, a new survey claims.

Research by the Bank of England found that 106,000 mortgages were approved in April, 8,000 less than in March, with the £8.5 billion net increase on mortgages also below March's figure, despite matching the year average so far.

The value of consumer credit increased slightly compared to the value recorded in March by £0.8 billion, with credit card lending rising by £0.4 billion, but the annual growth rate of consumer credit again tumbled by 7.3 per cent.

Furthermore, M4 lending to non-financial corporations experienced the most significant rise in value during April, increasing by £3.5 billion, which equates to a one percentage point fall in annual growth to 16.7 per cent.

Lending to other financial corporations rose was found to have risen by £19.8 billion in April, with holdings up by £8.5 billion.

Commenting on the Bank of England's results, Vince Cable, Liberal Democrat shadow chancellor, claimed that despite the slowdown in lending, more Britons were facing financial hardships with mounting debts.

He commented: "With two million households living on a financial knife-edge and a further half a million households already in serious financial difficulty paying bills and meeting debts, any rise in interest rates or changes in personal circumstances could spell disaster.

"First time buyers are worst affected by the recent rises in house prices with the average price they pay exceeding £150,000. With the average first time buyer deposit now at around £24,000 it's not surprising that more and more young people are relying on their parents for financial support," Mr Cable added.

Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at Global Insight, believes that today's figures suggest the UK housing market is losing "momentum" and that Britons are becoming increasingly wary about their debts.

"Although unsecured consumer borrowing picked up in April, it was still far from robust. This indicates that consumers are cautious about taking on more debt, or at the very least are looking to find less expensive ways of financing their spending," he said.



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