Unveiling the first major review of home ownership in over a decade, housing executives have challenged claims that a lack of supply is to blame for the decline in younger buyers.
Instead, they argue falling incomes, personal debts and difficulty securing mortgages are the key factors keeping under-35-year-olds out of the market.
They also criticise Westminster’s tendency to look for short-term solutions, which they claim “damages” supply and fuels uncertainty.
Commenting on the findings, report author Pete Redfern said there has been a “dramatic shift” in levels of home ownership since the last big review in the early noughties
He said ownership in England has dropped by nearly 7.5 per cent over the last 12 years, with the 25-34 age group seeing the biggest decline (22 per cent).
“In that time we have fallen from a historic high for England down to... a low point in a league of Western countries in terms of home ownership,” he said.
“The scale of that decline - and the fact that year on year it has fallen for a long period - is a major issue.”
Contrary to much of the current debate around housing, the Redfern Review claims the affordability crisis is not a simple matter of building new homes.
It suggests younger generations are seeing their finances “squeezed” by a combination of lower wages and tougher mortgage lending conditions.
The report goes on to suggest increased housing supply can improve affordability, but only when part of a long-term strategy.
It therefore calls for the creation of an Independent Housing Commission, to discourage governments from pursuing short-term policies.
Other recommendations include a reform of the Government’s Help to Buy scheme, extending it beyond 2021 and targeting more first time buyers.
It also proposes an increase in state contributions to lifetime ISAs, and the retention of Starter Home discounts “in perpetuity”.
Labour’s shadow housing secretary John Healey, who commissioned the report, described it as a “significant piece of work”.
He said: “Home ownership matters because housing is at the heart of the widening wealth inequality in this country.
“This is a challenge to me, and to Labour, and to politicians of all parties.”