The single penalty: why it costs £860 a month to be alone | Relationships


Name: The single penalty.

Age: Older than Eve.

Appearance: An imaginary invoice, but with a very real cost.

What cost is that? £860, according to financial services provider Hargreaves Lansdown.

That sounds like a lot. Sorry, I should have said: that’s £860 a month.

Outrageous! What do I get for that? Nothing – it’s a penalty for being single.

Since when is being single a crime? It’s not a crime, but it is a tremendous expense. Rent, electricity, food – they all cost more if you’re single.

How does that work? A single person spends, on average, about £1,851 on monthly household bills, but if you’re one half of a couple, it works out to just £991 each.

I guess living with another person is, generally speaking, more cost efficient. It’s not just the household savings – gym chains also offer membership discounts for couples. David Lloyd’s monthly individual membership is £94.50. As half of a couple, it’s only £77.

That’s ridiculous. Why would married people need to go to the gym? National Trust memberships are cheaper for couples. And you can get two-for-one railcards.

Train discounts for couples? You don’t actually have to be in a couple to take advantage of it, but you do have to know another adult you can travel with.

I think I’d prefer to stay home. That won’t help much. “Even the tax system seems stacked against you,” says Sarah Coles of Hargreaves Lansdown.

I’m being taxed for being single? “There are specific tax breaks for people who are married or in civil partnerships,” Coles says, “from the marriage allowance to the fact there is no inheritance tax on assets passed between spouses after death, or capital gains tax on assets passed while you ‘re alive.’

This is terrible. Why should I be punished for being on my own? There is no justice.

Is there anything I can do to avoid the single penalty? You could get a partner.

At these prices, I guess I should hurry. Not in this economic climate. Once you’ve acquired your significant other, all sorts of financial benefits will accrue to you.

OK, but is this person going to talk while we’re eating? Because if that’s the case I think I’d rather pay. You’ll be able to go halves on a Netflix subscription.

Sold. I hope you’ll be very happy together.

Do say: “Here – put this ring on and act like you like me until we get to the sauna.”

Don’t say: “Hello, my cat and I would like a mortgage.”


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