Britain's increasingly beleaguered housing market was hit by yet more bad news yesterday as mortgage providers said lending to home buyers had slumped to a 33-year low and one of the country's biggest builders warned of falling sales. The Independent

The Council of Mortgage Lenders said just 46,500 borrowers took out home loans to buy a new property in March, around half the figure for the same month last year. The total number of new mortgages approved for home loans in the first three months of 2008 was 142,000, the lowest total since the first quarter of 1975.

Michael Coogan, director-general of the CML, said there was no prospect of any immediate improvement in the property market. 'House purchase transaction volumes will continue to deteriorate in the coming months as recent approvals data from the Bank of England has shown,' he said.