Wednesday, UK's Council of Mortgage Lenders said gross mortgage lending rose 16% month-on-month to an estimated GBP 11.5 billion in March. On an annual basis, lending plunged 52%. It was GBP 9.9 billion in February.

Gross lending for the first quarter was an estimated GBP 33 billion, down 29% from the fourth quarter of 2008 and the lowest quarterly lending total since the first quarter of 2001. The CML said a seasonal fall of 10% is typically experienced between the fourth and first quarter.

CML Director General Michael Coogan said, While the market is beginning to show some signs of stabilizing, housing transactions and lending are set to remain low for the foreseeable future.

Today's Budget does provide the opportunity for action to reinforce the housing market. In particular we would like to see the government extend and simplify low-cost home-ownership, raise the stamp duty threshold to GBP 250,000, and expand existing support schemes for borrowers in difficulty, Coogan added.

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