Demand for consumer credit is expected to rise to its highest level since the Brexit vote, a Bank of England survey suggests.
Lenders expect household appetite for unsecured credit – accounting for personal loans, overdrafts and credit cards – to increase 12.3% over the next three months, according to the Bank’s Credit Conditions Survey of banks and building societies.
That is the highest expected increase since the period leading up to the EU referendum, with projected demand in the second quarter of 2016 having been 14.3%.
JP Morgan economist Allan Monks said: “Whatever the demand for consumer credit does tends to attract negative headlines … we read the apparent strengthening in overall consumer credit as a signal that spending growth is holding up through a period of capped real income growth.
“This comes despite an ongoing rise in default rates on consumer credit.”
Overall default rates for unsecured lending is expected to increase further in the third quarter after rising on the back of a significant rise in credit card defaults in the three months to June.
Credit card approvals increased significantly over the period.
But households may find it harder to take out unsecured credit in the coming months as consumer lending is reined in.
While the availability of unsecured credit to households was unchanged in the second quarter, lenders expect it to “decrease slightly” in the third quarter.
The survey showed that credit scoring criteria for other unsecured loans became “significantly harder” over the three months to June and that the proportion of applications approved fell slightly.
Credit card demand is expected to rise in the third quarter, though appetite for other types of unsecured credit is expected to wane.
The availability of secured credit – which includes mortgages – was unchanged in the three months to June and is expected to hold steady in the coming quarter.
That was amid a rise in demand for remortgaging which is set to continue, while mortgages for home purchases were unchanged.
Default rates on secured loans to households were reported to have fallen and are forecast to remain unchanged in the coming three months.
The picture was bright for small businesses, with credit availability rising in the second quarter.
“This is the first time lenders have reported greater credit availability to businesses of any size since 2015 Q3,” the report said.
The overall availability of credit to the corporate sector as a whole was unchanged.
The Bank asks lenders about the past three months and their expectations for the coming three months as part of its role to maintain financial stability.
The latest survey was carried out between May 21 and June 8.