How single people are penalised financially

Empty pocketNew research suggests single women pay a massive £435 more for their car insurance than married women. Being single, it seems, is a risky business. But as well as high risk, it can be expensive too.

The research* found married women paid an average of £406 for their car insurance in the last quarter of 2012, compared with £841 paid by single females.

Single women have long paid more for their car insurance than their married counterparts. Apparently the footloose and fancy free are deemed less "stable" by insurers than those who are coupled up.

It's bonkers when you think about it. After all it's no longer legal to base insurance premiums on gender, yet pricing depending on someone's marital status is still allowed? Secondly, it suggests that single people could become safer drivers overnight just by getting hitched.

But it's not just insurers that give single people a raw deal.

Most package holidays advertise a price based on two people sharing a room and you'll be charged a single supplement if you travel alone.

Hotels argue that the cost of cleaning a room and other services is the same regardless of how many people stay in it.

If you choose to travel alone you're pretty much ruled out of the traditional "week in Spain" type package holiday. But the good news is there are plenty of other, much more exciting, options.

Most adventure travel companies encourage solo travellers and pair them up with someone of the same gender to share accommodation with. So if travelling round Mexico or climbing mountains in Morocco is your bag, you'll find some like-minded people to do it with. Or if you fancy a resort-based holiday, Mark Warner caters well for single people with single or shared rooms and plenty of social activities.

Best of all, if you're single there's no one to persuade you to spend your hard-earned cash and limited annual leave entitlement on a dull golf holiday: money permitting, the world is your oyster.

The trials of being a first-time buyer these days are well documented, but getting that vital first step on the ladder can be even more difficult if you are doing it alone.

If you don't have a partner with whom you can share the cost of a deposit and mortgage, buying a property can seem nothing but a distant dream.

One option is to get a joint mortgage with a friend but you'll need to decide what you'll do further down the track if one of you wants to live with a partner.

If you do manage to buy alone, then the advantages are obvious: total independence. Unlike couples who might find property ownership makes a messy break-up ten-times harder, you won't have to move house just because you don't like your boyfriend anymore.

And if you're desperate, or just fancy the company, you can take advantage of the Government's Rent-a-Room scheme if you have a spare bedroom.

Household bills
Council tax bills are supposedly calculated based on two adults living at an address. However, the single person's discount for living alone is only 25%.

To qualify for this discount you need to sign a form available from your local council to say that you live alone.

There's no discount at all on other bills such as gas, electricity, water, phone and broadband and these bills can be expensive for the lone dweller.

As far as your water supply goes, you might not have a choice of supplier, but it can be a good idea to get a water meter installed. Generally this is a good idea if your property has more bedrooms than inhabitants.

As if being single wasn't expensive enough, singletons are rarely mentioned by politicians or newspapers.

We're always hearing about "hard-working families" and "families hit by the recession" as if single people don't go to work or are unaffected by economic conditions.

And while there are tax breaks for families, there's no such help for people who pay the mortgage and bills on their own rather than splitting the very same costs with someone else.

While a change in policies might be asking too much, just an acknowledgement that not everyone lives in a family unit might be a start.
* from Watson

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