The Bank of England (BOE), the central bank of Britain, on Thursday unexpectedly announced changes of its credit incentive measure targeting at the housing market.
BOE governor Mark Carney said that the Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS) would now focus solely on enabling greater lending to small firms, and will no longer be aimed at householders and individuals.
British finance ministry and BOE jointly launched the FLS scheme to provide up to 80 billion pounds (130 billion U.S. dollars) to banks and building societies to help increase lending to home-buyers and businesses in a bid to stimulate economic growth.
The finance ministry initiated another scheme, Help to Buy, in April this year to provide mortgage guarantee to support recovery of the property market.
However, the recent high rising house prices have caused concern of a potential housing bubble.
Carney said: "The changes announced today refocus the FLS scheme where it is most needed -- to underpin the supply of credit to small businesses over the next year -- without providing further broad support to household lending that is no longer needed."
He said that he saw a higher risk to financial stability if there are further rapid rises in house prices, and there were signs of house price growth picking up beyond London.
The BOE said that increases in lending to households from Jan. 1, 2014 would not entitle banks to access to cheap finance, although existing entitlements would not be affected.
Fees charged to banks business finance would be reduced to the lowest point on the existing scale, 0.25 percent. The central bank said that favorable capital treatment for new home loans made under the FLS would end on Dec. 31.
The BOE also signalled that it was ready to take further action to cool housing if need be, including recommending a cap on how big mortgages can be relative to property values and borrowers' salaries.
British Finance Minister George Osborne wrote on his Twitter account, "We're focussing the FLS scheme on businesses as the housing market is improving but lending to business still not good enough."
Official figures show that average house prices in Britain have continued to rise for 18 months since March last year, hitting a new high in August.
According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, house prices in Britain increased by 3.8 percent in the 12 months to September, up from 3.7 percent a month ago.