The number of mortgages approved for house purchases in the UK crept up to a three-month high in April, Bank of England figures show.

There were 8,008 of these mortgages given the green light, up slightly on the previous month, and nearly 500 higher than the same month a year ago.

Mortgage rates are at relatively low levels at present.

However, many first-time buyers have struggled to raise the deposit required to get on the housing ladder.


The latest figures from the Bank show that mortgage lending has picked up compared with recent years, although it remains well below the level seen during the housing boom.

On Thursday, the Nationwide Building Society suggested that there was "momentum" in the UK housing market with sales and prices on the rise.

It said this was partly the result of the Funding for Lending Scheme which see cheap funds offered to lenders if this is then provided to individuals and business borrowers.

However, a number of commentators are more cautious about the strength of the market.

Howard Archer, chief European and UK economist for IHS Global Insight, said: "While a moderate rise in house prices over 2013 looks ever more probable, a strong upward move remains unlikely given a still challenging and uncertain economic environment despite the recent signs of limited improvement."

The National Housing Federation and the CBI have called for more affordable housing to be built, claiming that a lack of this was stalling economic growth in local economies.