First-time buyer numbers have dropped below 350,000 for the first time in two decades, making home ownership a distant prospect for millions.

New figures from GfK Financial reveal that 347,000 people took out a mortgage for the first time in the last year, 100,000 fewer than the previous low in February 1993. This compares with a high of more than 700,000 in 2004/5 and an average of 561,000.

Lack of deposit capital is at the root of this problem, as fewer than one in six hold sufficient funds to make the necessary down-payment. This shortfall makes it unlikely that the increased stamp duty allowance will have any effect on young people’s prospects for home ownership.