It is unrealistic to expect everyone in Britain to become a home owner, the economist who led the government’s inquiry into housing said on Tuesday as she warned that difficult choices lay ahead if instability in the housing market was to be reduced.

Kate Barker said people had to be realistic about what housing could do for them. “A house cannot be our pension, care insurance, loan collateral and children’s inheritance,” she said. “It cannot be a liquid asset for landlords and at the same time provide long-term security for tenants.”

Increasing home ownership has been an overt or covert policy of governments for many years.

But not everyone will be able to own a home, or indeed should, Ms Barker said, speaking as a member of the team that conducted a housing market study launched on Tuesday by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. “We need a social safety net, and for the young often a more flexible tenure will support better mobility of employment.”

Greater clarity was also needed on whether intermediate housing models were aimed at the right people, she said.

With the fall in house prices and land values, difficult choices lay ahead as the government sought better infrastructure provision and zero-carbon housing while meeting demand for subsidies for affordable housing, she added. “All of these are needed, and funding has to be provided.”

The search by the foundation’s task force was for “long-term policies to help end the cycle of boom and bust” and follows earlier housing inquiries.

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