Woolwich to continue cautious policy and focus on remortgages

Woolwich is to maintain its prudent lending criteria and says it will continue to focus on remortgage business.

Andy Gray, head of mortgages at Woolwich’s parent Barclays, says it was the lender’s prudent attitude that allowed its market share to rise from 8% in 2007 to 36% last year.

He says: “Brokers understand what the Woolwich brand stands for. We focus on remortgage activity and high credit quality. That’s the reason we are still in the market.

“We have been a continuous presence in the broker market and our decision to offer tranches of funding to distributors reaffirms our support for that sector.”

Barclays reported last week that its net new mortgage lending increased to £12.5bn in 2008 out of the total of £40bn net lending recorded by the Bank of England for the year.

The bank’s lending figure grew from £8bn the previous year and is higher than Abbey’s net new mortgage lending of £11.1bn.

Its average LTV for new mortgage lending declined mar-ginally from its 2007 level of 49%, to 47%.

Mortgage balances increased 18% to £82.3bn at the end of last year, with impairment charges standing at £24m.

Across the group, Barclays posted an annual pre-tax profit of £6.08bn – down 14% compared with 2007.

The bank has placed 300 staff into consultation, with 200 of these in the firm’s retail mortgage sales division.