The value of personal loans drawn down by borrowers in the first quarter of the year increased by a third according to new figures from the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI).

In total between January and March, loans worth €384m were drawn down, up 32.9% on the same period in 2021.

This was made up of 38,524 individual loans, a year-on-year increase of 36.4% in volume terms.

The value of the average loan was €9,963. This represents the highest level since the second quarter of last year.

Overall, the volume and value of personal loan drawdowns rose in year-on-year terms for the fourth successive quarter.

Much of the growth was driven by home improvement loans, which rose 26.2% in volume terms and 31% in value to €126m.

The quantity of loans for education rose almost 57% to 3,067, a jump of €16m or 62% in value.

"This is very much reflective of the fact that in the first quarter of 2021 the country was experiencing a lockdown whereas 12 months later life has for the most part returned to normal, construction has resumed and education has returned to the classroom," said chief executive of the BPFI, Brian Hayes.

"And looking at car loans, where the first quarter of the year is a key period for new car sales, it's interesting to see that car loans grew by 10.2% with the average car loan having increased by almost €400 to €11,285."