Britain’s building societies have launched a scathing attack on the City watchdog over new regulations being imposed on them in the wake of the credit crunch.

In a formal submission to the Financial Services Authority, the 52 mutual lenders accuse the FSA of weakening the sector by 'uniquely fettering their ability to compete'.

The building societies claim a new rule book for the sector would have a “discriminatory and anti-competitive effect in the mortgage market”.

Among the FSA’s proposals are plans to clamp down on societies offering high loan-to-value mortgages, which would restrict their ability to lend to first-time buyers.

The document, submitted by the Building Societies Association, adds: 'Our main overall concern is that much of the detail of the proposals simply fails to match the high-level objective that the FSA set itself — of promoting a strong, vibrant mutual sector.'

Sunday Times