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Proportion of home-owning Britons falls to 30-year low

ONS says past decade has seen the first rise in the percentage of households renting in almost a century

The proportion of people who own their own homes has slumped to its lowest level since the mid-80s, with getting a foot on the property ladder now an increasingly difficult proposition for households across Britain.

According to a study by the Office for National Statistics, this past decade has seen the first rise in the percentage of households renting - and the first fall in the rate of home ownership - in almost a century.

High house prices, the limited availability of mortgages and declining wage growth have all conspired to make it tougher for first-time buyers to own a home of their own.

Home ownership peaked in 2001, when the level of owner-occupied households in England and Wales stood at 69 per cent. Now that figure is 64 per cent, while the number of renters has jumped by 1.6 million to 8.3 million. Between 2001 and 2011, the average house price for first-time buyers jumped by 96 per cent.

In 1918, when records began, 77 per cent of households were renting, but until now that proportion had steadily decreased.

The ONS report said: "The rapid increase in the number of households privately renting could be linked to the decline in the number of households getting on the housing ladder, usually through a mortgage. This is mainly because of the increasing difficulty for first time buyers to raise deposits for a mortgage."

Gill Payne, campaigns director at the National Housing Federation, warned that people are "trapped in a vicious cycle" and urged the Government to build new, affordable homes.

"High house prices mean many can't afford to buy a home, and as demand for rented housing increases, so do the rents - making it very difficult to save for a mortgage deposit," she said.

"This costs the taxpayer too as the housing benefit bill continues to rise because hundreds of thousands of more working people need help paying their rent.

"Currently we're only building half the amount of homes we need each year. The Government must take a long-term view and build a lot more homes. But nothing will change unless people around the country speak up and tell their local councillors that they want more homes they can afford."