HeraldScotland:

Nationwide Building Society saw profits more than double amid higher lending margins on mortgages approved during the pandemic, the lender has revealed.

It said pre-tax profits for the six months to the end of September hit £853 million compared with £361 million a year earlier.

The bank explained it was driven by its decision to keep lending at the start of the pandemic while rivals pulled back.

Nationwide is the second-biggest mortgage lender in the UK after Lloyds, with gross mortgage lending during the period rising by £5.5 billion to £18.2 billion, although its market share fell slightly from 12% to 11.4%.

More than £5 billion was lent to first-time buyers, the bank added.

HeraldScotland:

Profits were also boosted by the release of £34 million of the £139 million held back in provisions during the pandemic.

Chief executive Joe Garner said: "Early in the pandemic we made decisions to stand by our members and to protect our financial strength."

He added: "Over the last six months we have focused on providing highly competitive products for our mortgage and savings members.

"These have been very popular, resulting in a successful ISA season, increased deposits, higher mortgage lending, and a larger share of the current account market."

Net interest margins rose from 1.15% to 1.24%, although finance chief Chris Rhodes said the higher levels would fall back over time and were "a bit of a one-off".

He added: "During the pandemic, strong demand for mortgages, coupled with macro-economic uncertainty, led to higher margins on mortgage lending.

"This resulted in significantly higher income, and a very strong overall financial performance.

"Net interest margin improved, but is unlikely to be sustained at this level in future due to intense competition in the mortgage market."

The lender's ISA savings products also performed strongly and deposits rose by £7.1 billion in the period.

Tait Bros in hunt for new Borders home

The brothers behind a Scottish vermouth have started surveying locations for a new headquarters following a successful £120,000 crowdfunding campaign.

Hitting its target in just two days, more than 170 investors backed Valentian Vermouth’s campaign on Crowdcube, launched to finance a new brand home, new hires and the development of new products expected next year.

Free digital skills boost for over 25s

Up to 20,000 people across Scotland will be able to learn new skills including digital technology, finance and design through free digital learning.

The digitally enabled learning platform from Skills Development Scotland, backed by the Scottish Government, gives anyone 25 or over access to LinkedIn Learning and FutureLearn courses and is to help the recovery from the pandemic.