A job worth pounds 313 a week that goes unnoticed

Women on average think that their families rate the work they do around the home only just above "seven out of ten", while they agree with men that the cost of paying someone to do the housework would usually amount to pounds 313 a week.

According to Legal & General's "Value of a Mum" report published yesterday, most women also think that if they stopped doing some of the housework, their partners "wouldn't notice at all."

However, an almost equal number, 17 per cent, think their partners would spot the difference immediately.

Legal & General launched the survey to find out the relative time put in by women and men in running their households, and to publicise the need for financial protection for women as well as men.

The report also found that Margaret Meldrew, the long-suffering wife of cantankerous Victor in BBC's One Foot in the Grave series, is Britain's favourite TV housewife.

Mrs Meldrew polled the highest number of votes from both men and women in the survey. Among women only, Coronation Street's Sally Webster, currently coping with the demands of raising a family and husband Kevin's infidelity, is hailed as the most admired housewife.

At the other end of the scale, however, housewife megastar Dame Edna Everidge gets the thumbs down as the least popular figure among both men and women. Only just above Dame Edna are Eastenders' Pauline Fowler and Sybil Fawlty, wife of anarchic Basil.

Other TV housewife heroines include the Oxo Mum and Mrs Merton.

Peter Telford, head of life assurance at Legal & General, claimed there was a serious point to the report. "In this supposed age of equality it still seems women are worse off when it comes to being financially protected. Women have less than two-thirds of the life assurance held by men, yet they still take on the lion's share of the family responsibilities."

"Couples need to consider carefully how the family would cope if one partner, particularly the woman, wasn't around," he said.

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