UK lenders put brakes on credit after borrowing binge

John-Paul Ford Rojas, Business Reporter

Banks are planning to put the brakes on credit card lending after a borrowing binge last year, Bank of England figures show.

Lenders told a quarterly survey by the Bank that they had tightened credit scoring criteria for cards and other unsecured loans in the first three months of this year.

They said they plan to tighten lending further in the second quarter - with more lenders planning to rein in credit over the period than at any time since the end of 2008 during the financial crisis, the report found.

The figures come as rising inflation and stalling wage growth stoke fears of a squeeze on living standards and a slowdown in the consumer boom that has kept the economy in robust health since last year's Brexit vote.

Part of the boom had been fuelled by a strong expansion in consumer lending.

But there are already signs of it tailing off with latest industry figures showing retail sales falling for three months in a row at the start of this year.

The Bank survey found a net balance of 18.8% of British lenders plan to tighten the availability of unsecured credit to consumers in the next three months.

That compares with a balance of 7.9% the last time the Bank conducted a quarterly survey.

The Bank of England's Financial Policy Committee said last month that it was concerned about a surge in household debt, already high by historical standards, with consumer credit "growing particularly rapidly".

It said the Bank's Prudential Regulation Authority was reviewing banks' lending standards.