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Household Bills

Three million couples rely on two incomes to survive

Kit Klarenberg
Written By:
Kit Klarenberg

New research shows 3.2 million UK households are reliant on two incomes to make ends meet, and would struggle to cope if they lost one.

According to protection specialist LV=, 45 per cent of all cohabiting couples are dependent on both incomes to pay for essentials, with 14 per cent admitting to struggling even with two incomes.

An additional three in ten couples rely on a double income to maintain the quality of their lifestyle, but even these more affluent individuals would have to make significant adjustments if one member became unable to work.

Across all couples, 34 per cent would have to make substantial changes to their lifestyle if one partner was unable to work.

Three in five would have to cancel holiday plans, while one in five would sacrifice gym memberships. Others would have to make more drastic changes like downsizing their house (13 per cent) or asking family for additional help with childcare (10 per cent).

Sacrifices vary dramatically depending on how tight households find their income. For example, double income couples are more likely to change their shopping habits, with 46 per cent saying they’d start shopping at cheaper supermarkets, in comparison to 23 per cent of those who need both incomes to maintain their lifestyle. Around one in ten (12 per cent) would have to visit food banks just to keep food on the table.

Just under half of couples (47 per cent) say they would ideally have one person ‘keep house’, and rely on one wage if it was possible. However, this prospect is not only impossible for many, but becoming increasingly difficult – as most double income couples say their combined wages aren’t going as far as they were this time last year.

Despite relying on two incomes, 64 per cent of the households surveyed had no income protection, leaving them vulnerable if one member was to become ill or injured. A quarter of couples had never even thought about taking out income protection, even though it could save them from having to downsize their home or sell the family car.

Myles Rix, managing director of protection at LV=, said“Millions of couples in the UK are reliant on having two incomes to pay the bills and would have to make significant changes if one of them was suddenly unable to work due to accident or illness.

“Despite this very few have a financial contingency plan, like income protection, which would enable them to focus on recovering without the additional stress of paying the bills.”