Money and Credit - March 2019

These monthly statistics on borrowing and deposits by households and businesses are used by the Bank’s policy committees to understand economic trends and developments in the banking system.
Published on 01 May 2019

Key points

  • Consumer credit increased by £0.5 billion in March, the lowest increase since November 2013. The weakness was largely due to a fall in new lending for car finance.
  • Net lending for mortgages increased to £4.1 billion in March. Mortgage approvals for house purchase, which give an indication of future mortgage lending, fell to 62,300.
  • UK businesses raised £1.1 billion of net finance in March, with strength in bond issuance partially offset by net repayments in the equity market.

References in the text point to the summary tables below. For further statistics, please see our interactive charts and Bankstats tables.

Lending to individuals (Tables A-E)

Consumer credit (Tables B and C):

The extra amount borrowed by consumers to buy goods and services fell to £0.5 billion in March (Chart 1). This was the lowest monthly flow since November 2013 and well below the average of £0.9 billion since July 2018. The fall in net lending on the month was due to weaker net borrowing for other loans and advances, which fell from £0.8 billion in February to £0.2 billion. Within this, new borrowing for car finance fell sharply, alongside weaker car registration numbers in March 2019 than in previous years.1 Net credit card borrowing fell slightly on the month due to stronger repayments. Though at £0.3 billion, this was in line with its average since July 2018.

Chart 1: Consumer credit flows

Seasonally adjusted

Chart 1: Net finance raised by PNFCs
The annual growth rate of consumer credit has continued to slow, reflecting the relatively weak flows of consumer credit over the past twelve-months. It fell to 6.4% in March, well below its peak of 10.9% in November 2016. However, within this, the growth rate of credit card lending ticked up for the first time since June 2018, to 6.6%.

Mortgage lending (Tables D and E):

Mortgage market activity picked up in the month, following a weak February. Households borrowed an extra £4.1 billion secured against property in March, compared to £3.3 billion in the previous month (Chart 2). The annual growth rate of mortgage lending was 3.3%. It has been around 3% since the beginning of 2016, and remains modest compared to the pre-crisis period.

Chart 2: Net secured lending

Seasonally adjusted

Chart 2: Bank lending to businesses growth
The number of mortgages approved for house purchase (an indicator of future mortgage lending) fell by around 3,000 in March to 62,300. The number of approvals for remortgaging increased slightly, to around 49,700.

Lending to businesses (Tables F-I)

The amount businesses borrowed from UK banks and financial markets (in the form of bonds, equity and commercial paper) increased by £1.1 billion in March (Chart 3). Within this, net bond issuance (a longer-term form of borrowing from financial markets) was strong at £3.5 billion, partly due to merger and acquisition activity. In contrast, businesses made the largest net repayment of equity since March 2008 (£1.7 billion in the month), driven by share buybacks. There were also net repayments in the commercial paper market (a form of short-term borrowing from financial markets), which contrasts to relatively strong net issuance in recent months. Borrowing from banks fell by £1.0 billion.

Chart 3: Net financed raised by PNFCs2

Seasonally adjusted
Chart 3: Net consumer credit flows

Bank lending to both large businesses and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) fell in March. Annual growth in lending to large businesses remains robust at 3.9%, albeit weaker than in previous months. Annual growth in lending to SME’s remains weak at -0.1%.

Broad money (Table J)

The total amount of money held by UK households, private non-financial corporations (PNFCs) and non-intermediary other financial corporations (NIOFCs) (broad money or M4ex) increased by £3.0 billion in March, below the recent average of £3.8 billion. Within this, money held by households increased by £2.8 billion, slightly below the recent average. This flow was partly driven by households continuing to increase the amount of money they put into Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs), as they have done since early 2018. Money held by PNFCs fell by £0.3 billion, though by less than in February.

  1. SMMT new car registrations - March 2019
  2. There is a discrepancy between the total of net finance raised and its components due to the seasonal adjustment methodology.

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