Belfast Telegraph

Nationwide profits down amid economic uncertainty and fall in buy-to-let loans

Nationwide saw profits tumble in the first quarter as it braces for a period of potential "prolonged economic uncertainty" and amid a retreat from the buy-to-let market.

The building society said underlying pre-tax profits in the three months to June 30 dropped 18% to £301 million.

Statutory pre-tax profits fell from £401 million to £322 million in the period.

It put the decline down to a non-recurring £100 million gain in the first quarter of last year, and chief executive Joe Garner said profit remained in its "target range".

The figures also show that gross mortgage lending fell from £8.6 billion to £8.1 billion in the period, while net mortgage lending decreased to £2.4 billion from £3.5 billion.

Nationwide put this down to a "reduction in buy-to-let advances" as a result of the increase in stamp duty for such properties that came in last year, and changes to its lending criteria.

Mr Garner warned that while the building society's research shows that consumers expect Brexit to leave their ability to access credit unchanged, there were choppy waters ahead.

"It will be important for lenders to balance carefully credit supply with affordability as we seek to support the long-term interests of consumers in a responsible way through any potential economic slowdown ahead," he said.

"In a period of potentially prolonged economic uncertainty and persistently low interest rates, Nationwide continues to invest in products and services to support the long-term needs of our members."

Nationwide also said that more people opened a current account with the building society than with any other provider as it saw a total of 202,000 new customers in the period.

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