Alistair Darling has said the government will act to ease the mortgage crisis and UK banks will provide at least £20bn of mortgage finance this year.

He said he will introduce a scheme to guarantee securities backed by mortgages to ease the liquidity crisis.

He will extend a mortgage support scheme for owners out of work for a futher six months as long as they continue to look for a job.

He extended the 1% stamp duty holiday on homes of up to £175,000.

The ‘holiday’ was due to end this September, when the threshold at which buyers would have to pay the tax would fall back to £125,000. He said 60% of UK properties will be exempt from stamp duty.