Gavin Barwell housing minister Conservatives
Gavin Barwell was appointed housing minister by Theresa May in September Getty

The Government must not be "obsessed" with promoting home ownership, said the new housing minister, marking a shift in tone from the previous administration.

"I think the evidence is very clear that most people want to own their own home, so it's absolutely right that a part of government policy is trying to help people do that," said Gavin Barwell, who took over from Brandon Lewis as housing minister in September, on a panel at the MIPIM UK property conference.

"But, fundamentally, the most important thing we can do to make housing in this country more affordable is to build more homes.

"We mustn't get to a point where the ownership objective is trumping the overall supply one. I've said repeatedly, I want to see more homes of every kind... we mustn't have a housing policy that is obsessed with one tenure against other kinds."

Increasing the homeownership rate and making it easier for first-time buyers to get onto the ladder through schemes such as Help to Buy and starter homes was a priority of the Treasury under the previous chancellor George Osborne.

The government believed increasing demand from first-time buyers by making it cheaper and easier for them to access mortgages would spur on housebuilders to increase their output, helping to ease the housing crisis. Housebuilding is growing, but still running at around half the level needed to meet demand in England and Wales, driving up house prices and rents.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) predicts that by 2025 there will be a shortage of 1.8 million rental homes in the UK. The British Property Federation (BPF), a trade association, called on Chancellor Philip Hammond to use the autumn statement, his first since taking over from Osborne, to boost the build-to-rent sector by cutting taxes for landlords and relaxing planning rules.

At the 2016 Conservative party conference in Birmingham, a £5bn ($6.47bn, €5.76bn) package of funding for housebuilding was unveiled by ministers. An extra £2bn of borrowed money will be made available to bring public land with planning permission up to scratch so much-needed housebuilding can take place.

A further £3bn of previously announced funding would be directed into a Home Builders Fund. Of this, £1bn will be short-term finance made available to smaller builders for 25,500 new homes by 2020. And £2bn from the government's infrastructure spending will be used over a longer period of time to deliver 200,000 more homes.