Credit Conditions Survey - 2015 Q4

This quarterly survey of banks and building societies is aimed at improving our understanding of trends and developments in credit conditions.
Published on 15 January 2016

The 2015 Q4 survey was conducted between 23 November and 11 December 2015.


  • The availability of secured credit to households was reported to have increased slightly in the three months to mid-December. The main factor that lenders cited as having contributed to the slight increase in credit availability was their expectations for house prices. Lenders expected secured credit availability to increase in 2016 Q1.
  • Lenders reported that the availability of unsecured credit to households increased in Q4. Lenders attributed the increase to their changing appetite for risk and market share objectives. The increase in unsecured credit availability appeared particularly apparent in other unsecured lending, such as personal loans, where credit scoring criteria were reported to have loosened. For credit cards, credit scoring criteria were unchanged.
  • The overall availability of credit to the corporate sector was reported to be unchanged in Q4, and was expected to remain so in 2016 Q1. Within this, lenders reported that availability was unchanged for firms of all sizes.


  • Lenders reported that demand for secured lending for house purchase increased slightly in 2015 Q4, and was expected to increase in 2016 Q1. Within this, demand for buy-to-let lending increased significantly in Q4, while demand for prime lending fell slightly. Demand for remortgaging increased in Q4.
  • Demand for other unsecured lending products was reported to have increased significantly in 2015 Q4 and was expected to increase again in 2016 Q1. Demand for credit card lending fell significantly in Q4, but lenders expected this to reverse in 2016 Q1.
  • Demand for corporate lending was reported to have increased across large and medium-sized companies in Q4, but fell for small businesses. Lenders reported that an increase in mergers and acquisitions activity had significantly pushed up on demand. Demand from large and, to a lesser extent, medium-sized companies was expected to increase further in 2016 Q1, while demand from small businesses was expected to be unchanged.

Loan pricing

  • Overall spreads on secured lending to households — relative to Bank Rate or the appropriate swap rate — were again reported to have narrowed significantly in 2015 Q4, but were expected to widen slightly in Q1.
  • Spreads on other unsecured lending products were reported to have widened significantly in Q4, the first widening since 2012 Q3. Spreads were expected to widen slightly more over 2016 Q1. Lenders reported that spreads on credit cards remained unchanged in Q4, but that the length of interest-free transfer balance periods increased significantly, while interest-free purchase periods and credit card limits also increased.
  • Spreads on lending to large corporates narrowed in Q4 and fees and commissions fell. Spreads on lending to small and medium-sized companies remained unchanged in Q4, though fees and commissions facing the former fell.


  • Default rates and losses given default on secured loans to households fell significantly in 2015 Q4.
  • Default rates on other unsecured lending to households fell significantly in Q4, while default rates on credit card lending to households were unchanged. Losses given default on both credit card and other unsecured lending declined in Q4.
  • Lenders reported that default rates on lending to medium-sized companies fell in Q4, and fell significantly on lending to small businesses. Default rates on lending to large corporates were unchanged in 2015 Q4.

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