UK snow
Snow kept a lid on borrowing from banks in January (Reuters)

Borrowing by Britain's consumers and businesses dropped on the year before in January, as banks felt the cold pinch of the country's snowy weather.

Consumer borrowing on credit cards, loans and overdrafts fell in the month, reported the British Bankers' Association (BBA), as did net borrowing by business.

Mortgage borrowing rose, however, as a credit easing initiative by the Bank of England thaws the frost in home loans.

"January's severe weather impacted adversely on what was already a subdued picture of borrowing demand from households and businesses," said BBA statistics director David Dooks.

"While general economic growth stalls, low consumer and business confidence generates a natural tendency to restrain borrowing appetite, repay borrowing where possible, and to build up cash and savings as a buffer."

BBA figures show a fall of 0.2 percent rise in net mortgage borrowing from UK banks in January, with £7.7bn of new property loans in the month. This is above the recent monthly average.

However, mortgage approvals fell by 14 percent in January amid bad weather.

New spending on consumer credit cards was down £100m, to £7.2bn, though this is in line with the monthly average. Consumer loans and overdraft borrowing dropped by £200m, with £1.1bn of new loans in January.

Net borrowing by non-financial businesses was down £200m, with financial businesses borrowing £7.8bn less in the first month of the year.

The Bank of England's Funding for Lending Scheme, launched in June 2011, offers banks cheap money as an incentive to increase the availability of affordable credit for the real economy of consumers and smaller firms.

This is having an impact on residential mortgages, with home loan lending rising, interest rates falling, and demand in the housing market growing.

However, lawmakers scrutinising FLS have said not enough lending to small-and-medium sized enterprises (SME) is being stimulated.

They ordered the Bank of England to investigate the issue and report back to parliament.
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