Mortgages taking the place of unsecured borrowing

This is higher than the February’s figure of £4.7 billion, and also above the previous six month’s average of £4.9 billion.

Meanwhile, unsecured personal lending has fallen by £0.4 billion, according to the latest figures from the major British banking groups.

David Dooks, director of statistics at the BBA, said: “The contrast between stronger mortgage lending and net repayments of unsecured borrowing suggests that individuals are optimistic about the housing market, though careful about card borrowing, overdrafts or taking on personal loans.”

According to the figures, credit card borrowing has also seen a decline totalling £0.2 billion.

Debt-resolution specialists, ClearDebt commented that some of the increased mortgage advances might be being used as a route out of debt:

“Consolidating your expensive unsecured loans into your mortgage can be a very effective way of reducing monthly credit payments,” said ClearDebt marketing director, Andrew Smith: “Especially if it’s done before your credit history gets any black marks on it.

“However, it can make moving house more difficult if you refinance against a sizeable chunk of your equity – for a year or two at least.”