UK banks approve fewest mortgages since January 2015, consumer credit growth strong

LONDON (REUTERS) - The number of mortgages approved by British banks in July fell to its lowest in a year, but robust credit growth added to signs the Brexit vote has had little impact on consumers so far, industry data showed on Wednesday (Aug 24).

British banks approved 37,662 mortgages for house purchases last month, down from 39,763 in June and 19 per cent lower than in July 2015, the British Bankers' Association said.

Net credit card lending rose in July by £291 million (S$517.2 million) after a £283 million increase in June, a 20 per cent increase on the same time a year ago.

"The data does not currently suggest borrowing patterns have been significantly affected by the Brexit vote, but it is still early days," BBA chief economist Rebecca Harding said. "Many borrowing decisions will also have been taken before the referendum. We are also clearly still a nation of shoppers and the Brexit vote has done nothing to change the fact that we use credit cards for short-term purchases."

The figures chimed with strong retail sales data earlier this month that showed little impact on consumer spending so far from the shock vote to leave the European Union.

The BBA figures do not include lending by mutually owned building societies, which accounts for around third of mortgages. The next release of the more comprehensive Bank of England lending data is next Tuesday.