Budget 2012: Tracking the UK economy

The UK's housing market has been badly hit by the economic downturn.

According to figures provided by two of the UK's major lenders, the Nationwide and the Halifax, house prices fell sharply at the start of the global economic crisis, hitting their lowest point in 2009 before rising strongly again, followed by a renewed dip.

It should be noted that these are average house prices for the whole of the UK and do not reflect regional variations in values.

For instance, figures from the Land Registry show there are significant price change differences in different areas of England and Wales. It said prices rose by 2.8% in London in 2011, but dropped by 7.1% in the north-east of England.