Mortgage lending was more or less flat in April, with the number of loans approved for the purchase of houses increasing just 685 from the previous month to 35,729, according to figures from the British Bankers' Association.

The figure was down from the previous six month average of 39,309 but up slightly from the same month in the previous year.

Net mortgage lending in April dropped to £1.8 billion in April, down from £2.3 billion in the previous month and from the previous six month average of £2.7 billion.

Remortgaging and equity withdrawal approvals declined from March to April while net consumer credit lending dropped £0.3 billion.

David Dooks, Statistics Director of the BBA, said, "Household priorities are clearly reflected in these latest data, with people paying down debt rather than building up savings, even in the main ISA season. Uncertainties about the impact of government policies and the economy on households and businesses will continue to dent consumer confidence and influence decision-making.

"Overall lending to companies remains subdued, although the annual rate of contraction appears to have bottomed out."