Decline in home ownership grinds to a halt
The decline in home ownership seen for the last decade in England has ground to a halt, official figures show.
But the number of households who own their home with the help of a mortgage has continued to slip back, while the number owning their home outright has increased, according to the English Housing Survey's data.
And nearly one million more families with dependent children are living in the private rented sector in England than a decade earlier.
In 2014-15, 63.6% - or 14.3 million - households in England were owner occupiers, slightly up from 63.3% the previous year.
Until then, the proportion of home owners had been on a downward path generally since reaching a peak of 70.9% in 2003.
Meanwhile, 19% of households - or 4.3 million - rented privately and 17.4% of households - or 3.9 million - rented socially in 2014-15.
The report said the recent decline in home ownership "seems to have abated".
The number of households who own their home outright with no mortgage overtook the number of home-owners who have a loan in 2013-14.
This trend continued in 2014-15. Of the 14.3 million home-owning households, 7.5 million owned their home outright with no mortgage in 2014-15, while 6.8 million had a mortgage.
The number of households with a mortgage was down on 2013-14, when it stood at 6.9 million, while the number of home-owning households who were mortgage-free increased from 7.4 million in 2013-14.
In 2014-15, the average age of first time buyers was 33 years old, up from 31 a decade earlier. The average first-time buyer needed a deposit of £42,505.
There has also been a big upswing in the proportion of families with children living in the private rented sector over the last decade, with around 1.6 million families now renting privately in England - accounting for more than one in three (37%) privately renting households.
In 2004-5, just 30% of households in the private rented sector were families with dependent children. The increase means there are now around 912,000 more households with children in the private rented sector than a decade earlier.
Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: "These figures are a stark reminder that for millions of families and young people it's becoming utterly impossible to create a stable future in a place they can really call home.
"Instead of being able to put down roots, more and more people are stuck spending vast amounts of their income on rent."
In a continuation of a trend seen from 2012-13, younger households aged 25 to 34 years old are still more likely to be renting than buying their own home, the report said.
The proportion of private renters who expect to get on the property ladder has also fallen. In 2014-15, 57% of private renters said they expect to buy a home at some point, down from 61% a year earlier.
In 2014-15, the average rent in the private sector in England was £179 per week, which was unchanged from a year earlier. The average rent in London increased by £17 per week from a year earlier, to reach £298 per week.
Matt Whittaker, chief economist at think-tank the Resolution Foundation, said: "While there is now political consensus around the strong need to support greater home ownership, it's important that households on modest incomes, particularly those with children, don't miss out on the action.
"And with renting set to play a bigger role going forward, there is also a need for a new focus on steps to improve security and stability for those who may never make it onto the housing ladder."
Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said more than 270,000 families were helped into home ownership through Government-backed schemes since 2010.
He continued: "We've set out the boldest ambition for housing in a generation, doubling the budget so we can help a million more people into home ownership, while delivering a bigger, and better private rental sector."