By Daniel Hunter

Gross mortgage lending by building societies and mutual lenders hit £2.9 billion in March 2013 - up by 8% compared to the same month the previous year.

Deloitte, the business advisory firm, says mutuals are benefitting from the Funding for Lending Scheme and taking a large share of the first-time buyer market.

“These lending figures show that mutuals continue to thrive and that lending is up by about a fifth in the first few months of this year compared to last," Stephen Williams, head of the Building Societies Practice at Deloitte, said.

"Throughout the rest of the year, building societies are set to continue to fund an increased demand for private rental, social housing provision as well as home ownership. They are taking advantage of gaps in the mortgage market as banks continue to deleverage.

"This will be supported by the Funding for Lending Scheme which will provide greater lending capacity. There has also been a welcome resurgence in lending to first-time buyers, which is at the highest level since 2007. I expect this trend to continue this year.”

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