Latest figures show lending of £143.7bn in 2009 exceeded expectations despite dramatic drop from 2008 levels

Mortgage lending fell 43% in 2009 from the previous year, despite efforts from the government to increase bank lending following the credit crunch, according to the latest figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

The body said total mortgage lending in 2009 was £143.7bn, slightly above its forecast of £141bn but down from the £253bn recorded in 2008, the year credit crunch took hold. The housing market stabilised last year despite the continued drop in lending, with a 9% rise in prices recorded since prices reached their bottom in April last year.

The yearly total is the lowest amount of lending since 2000, when £119bn was lent.

However, the body said that the last month of the year saw a surprise rise in lending, representing the first year-on-year rise in lending since the start of the credit crunch. Gross mortgage lending was £13.7 billion in December, a 14% rise from £12.1 billion in November and up 3% on December 2008.

CML economist Paul Samter warned that lending may fall in January as the unexpected rise in December was most likely due to the impending close of the stamp duty holiday for properties under £175,000. He said: “If there has been a “bunching” of sales to beat the rise, mortgage lending may see a larger than usual seasonal drop-off in the early part of 2010. But there is every reason to expect a gradual improvement in the latter part of the year. With a gradual pick up in economic growth and wider access to credit, 2010 will almost certainly be a better year in the mortgage market than 2009.”