Mortgage approvals in Britain were more than a third higher in November than a year earlier as government subsidies for homebuyers helped the property recovery gather pace. Figures from the British Bankers' Association showed that gross home loan borrowing last month stood at £10.3bn – a 37% jump on the same month in 2012. But while the BBA reported strong demand for mortgages, it said business lending was still depressed despite the pick-up in the economy during 2013. Lending to non-financial companies fell by £2bn on the month. BBA statistics director David Dooks said: "More new mortgages and a net rise in borrowing reflected a stronger mortgage market in November. With approvals up a third on a year earlier, lending will continue to be strong in the months ahead. "Annual growth in borrowing by manufacturing companies has turned positive for the first time in four years, although overall borrowing by companies is generally still subdued." The BBA said the number of mortgage approvals for house purchases was up 39% in November on a year earlier, and that there had been a 20% increase in remortgaging. Analysts say three big factors have been behind the spurt in housing market activity during 2013 – ultra-low borrowing costs, the Bank of England's Funding for Lending scheme which has provided financial incentives for banks to lend, and George Osborne's Help to Buy scheme which offers subsidised mortgages to those struggling to raise deposits. But Howard Archer , UK economist for HIS Global Insight said: "November's data does little to fire optimism that banks are now becoming markedly more prepared to lend to businesses given the improved economic situation and outlook. It also raises questions as to whether the extension to the Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS) in April to favour lending to smaller and medium-sized businesses has had much impact." Separate data from the Office for National Statistics indicated there was no improvement in the UK's recent poor productivity performance. Output per hour worked fell by 0.3% in the third quarter of 2013, while output per person rose slightly. The ONS said that after falling in 2012, productivity had been flat during 2013.
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