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Nationwide Gives Boost To Home Loans By 44%

(c) Sky News 2012

The Nationwide Building Society has increased home loans by 44%, boosting the number of mortgages provided to first-time buyers.

Gross residential mortgage lending rose to £18.4bn in the year to April 4 - up from £12.8bn the year before - according to its annual results.

The increase compared to a 5% rise in the overall mortgage market in Britain.

Nationwide, the UK's largest customer-owned financial group, said it provided loans to 24,000 first-time buyers, up 9% on the previous year.

"The key strategic delivery in the last year has focused on growth across all of our principal product lines... demonstrating our commitment to supporting growth in the economy as well as meeting the needs of borrowers, especially first time buyers," chief executive Graham Beale said in a statement.

"Our plan for the forthcoming year is to do more of the same."

Mr Beale said Nationwide provided a "real and viable alternative" to the established banks.

Nationwide competes with the 'Big Four' high street banks - Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland (LSE: RBS.L - news) , HSBC (LSE: HSBA.L - news) and Barclays (LSE: BARC.L - news) - in the financial services sector.

It posted an underlying profit of £304m, up 10%, but also took a £103m provision charge in respect of mis-selling claims of payment protection insurance.

The firm reported a statutory profit of £203m, which included charges of £75m for the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and bank levy, along with £61m in restructuring costs.