Northern Rock said it would lend up to £14 billion to British homebuyers in the next two years in a boost to the housing market. It said as much as £5 billion could be lent this year. Gross mortgage lending for the first three months of this year was £550 million, with the number of customers applying for loans rising 70 per cent. However, it acknowledged that the level of customers facing debt repayment problems was soaring. Customers more than three months in arrears had increased from 2.92 per cent at the end of 2015 to 3.67 per cent at the end of March.