The nationalised bank Northern Rock has set much tougher guidelines for mortgage lending, it has been revealed. Despite ministers exhorting banks to lend more to kick-start the housing market, the government-controlled bank has set a cap of 2.1 times salary for poorer workers. Wealthier people are allowed to borrow 4.5 times salary, with a maximum of 4.2 times salary for wealthy couples. The arrangements are revealed today in a report by the Commons public accounts committee into the collapse of the Newcastle-based bank nearly two years ago. The report details a memo to MPs from Sir Nick Macpherson, permanent secretary to the Treasury, showing that Northern Rock will lend a maximum of 85 per cent on properties. Although this is higher than Treasury guidelines, which recommend 70-80 per cent of property values, it is considerably lower than the 125 per cent mortgages or six times salary dished out by the bank in the run-up to its collapse nearly two years ago.