Santander, which owns Abbey, said that it had taken one in seven new mortgages in the UK as it reported a 30% increase in first-half profits at its UK operations to £790m.

The Spanish bank, which acquired Alliance & Leicester and part of Bradford & Bingley last year, said lending to small businesses had risen by 13% and it had written £2bn in net mortgage lending.

Abbey said it was well placed to weather the downturn because its loan-todeposit ratio was helped by the acquisition of B&B’s savings book last year – meaning it was less reliant on wholesale funding and had continued to lend.

Gross mortgage lending was £10.8bn in the first half, giving it an estimated market share of 16.3%.

Financial Times, Daily Telegraph