Mortgage lending in 2011 by building societies and other mutuals increased significantly compared with 2010, new figures show.
Gross lending by building societies and other mutuals in 2011 was £23.6 billion which is up 16% compared to 2010 (£20.4 billion), bucking the trend across much of the rest of the market, according to the Building Societies Association (BSA).
The annual figures were boosted in December, with lending up by 15% on the previous year, with the amount lent rising from £1.8 billion to £2.1 billion.
Adrian Coles, director-general of the BSA, said that building societies had bucked the national trend, with the UK 's major banks recording a small reduction in lending over the same period.
"The housing market faces significant headwinds over the coming 12 months but mutuals are poised to take on these challenges and continue to offer market leading rates and innovative products to home movers and first-time buyers alike," he added.
There was also an increase in savings at building societies and mutuals.
In 2011, savings balances held with mutuals increased by £4.0 billion, compared to an increase in balances of £0.2 billion in 2010.
Savings grew by £0.3 billion last month, helping to contribute towards to annual increase, although this was down on the £1.5 billion increase in December 2010.
"Growth in savings balances at mutuals increased significantly in 2011 compared to previous years although it is clear that savers are still struggling to save as much as they would like, or are choosing to use spare cash to pay down debt instead," said Mr Coles.
"The fall in the rate of inflation may offer some breathing space to households but if conditions in the labour market continue to deteriorate and wage growth remains low, household finances are likely to remain squeezed for some time to come."
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