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Virgin Money hikes lending and cuts bad debt provisions as economy recovers

·2-min read

Lender Virgin Money has notched up a rise in customer loans and cut the amount of money put by for bad debts in the pandemic, thanks to the UK’s economic bounceback.

The group – formerly known as CYBG – said it was releasing £19 million of cash set aside for loans that could turn sour in its third quarter.

It added that the remaining £678 million of provisions could be slashed further alongside full-year results if the rebound in the wider economy continues.

Virgin Money upped the outlook for its net interest margin – a key measure of profitability for retail banks – in a welcome boost after seeing margins squeezed by rock bottom interest rates.

The group posted a 0.7% rise in mortgage lending to £58.7 billion for the three months to June 30, helped by the homebuyer rush to beat the end of full stamp duty relief.

It said personal lending grew 2.5% to £5.2 billion, driven by credit card usage as consumer spending rose amid easing coronavirus restrictions.

This helped offset a 2.4% drop in business lending as the Government’s Covid-19 support schemes began to wind down.

It said Government-backed lending balances fell 3.2% to £1.4 billion as some borrowers started to repay, with many of these emergency loans now becoming due.

The group also reported a rise in current account customers, with nearly 110,000 accounts opened this financial year so far, up from 80,000 at the half-year stage.

Virgin Money said: “The UK economic outlook improved further in the third quarter.

“The rollout of the vaccination programme and the easing of restrictions supported further positive revisions to expectations.

It added: “While risks remain from the increase in Covid case numbers driven by the new variants and the impact of the removal of Government support schemes later in the year, the strengthening backdrop gives scope for greater optimism about the pace of the recovery.”

The figures come ahead of a busy week for bank results, with Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays, Santander and NatWest all reporting interim figures.

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