Mortgages 20 per cent more affordable

In December 2008, homeowners across England and Wales were spending on average £196 of every £1000 of their take home pay each month on their mortgages. A year later this had dropped to £157. In cash terms this equates to a saving of £110 per month on average in England and Wales.

The average monthly mortgage payments for homeowners now stands at £497, compared to £607 in December 2008.

Andy Gray, head of mortgages at Barclays said: "For the 11 million UK households who have a mortgage there is a silver lining to the recession - a substantial reduction in mortgage payments right when they need it most. For them it's a chance to save in a way they might not have been able to before, or to overpay their mortgage and cut years from its life."

The Woolwich Mortgage Affordability research measures the proportion of homeowners' income that is spent on mortgage repayments. It is based on data from a representative sample of nearly two million Barclays bank account holders making mortgage payments from the full range of UK lenders.

Regionally, the largest fall was in London where the proportion of pay spent on mortgage repayments has decreased by 23%, with the smallest decrease in the North East, at 15.5%. Of the ten regions analysed, the Welsh spend the smallest proportion of their take home pay - £143 in every £1000 - on monthly repayments. Londoners spend the most - £189.

Despite Londoners spending the most, they have also experienced the biggest payment reductions [£228] while homeowners in the North East saved on average £80 a month.