LONDON, March 25 British banks approved fewer mortgages in February than in January but the total amount of lending to buy homes rose to its highest level in nearly two years, data showed on Tuesday.
Mortgages for homes purchases slipped back to 47,550 last month, down from 49,341 in January which was the highest level since 2007, the British Bankers' Association said.
BBA data does not include lending by building societies, which are included in separate Bank of England data next due for release on March 31.
The data showed the number of mortgages rose 53 percent from a year earlier, although they remained below levels of more than 70,000 seen in late 2006, before the financial crisis.
Net mortgage lending rose by 655 million pounds ($1.08 billion) in February, its biggest increase since March 2012 and up from 540 million pounds in January.
Concern about the strength of the housing market prompted the Bank of England and the government to stop encouraging banks to lend to home-buyers under their Funding for Lending Scheme from January. The government's Help to Buy scheme remains in place to guarantee low-deposit mortgages.
* For a table of the data, see ($1 = 0.6065 British Pounds) (Reporting by William Schomberg; editing by Andy Bruce)