Who cares about hard-working singles?

Now that the Government has come around to the idea of gay marriage, it's time to accept the remaining taboo group

Share

Now that the Government (some of it) has come around to the idea of gay people getting married, I hope that they're a step closer to accepting one remaining taboo group: single people.

Last week's census showed, for the first time, that more people in the UK are unmarried than married. This was partly due to an increase in divorce, and because of widowed people, but also down to more people just not having a partner. "There were 26.4 million households in the UK in 2012," the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. "Of these, 29 per cent consisted of only one person." Add to that the people who are sharing with flatmates, and it turns out that a hefty minority of people are not living with a partner, with or without 2.2 kids.

Single-person households are increasing like rabbits (though not for the same reason, obviously). We expect to see another two million of them by 2020, but still the Government can't figure out what to do with them. In fact, it doesn't even want to mention them. Despite all the ONS statistics about what kind of people actually live in the UK, all we ever hear about is the effect of policies on "young couples" and "hard-working families". Regardless of the fact that old people are often poorer than young ones, and families don't work: people do.

Take the comments about the Chancellor's recent Autumn Statement. The TUC's Brendan Barber complained about the squeezing of "working families". The economist Christopher Pissarides was concerned about the budget's effects on "poorer families". The website thisismoney was relieved that "young couples" will be helped to get a foot on the housing ladder. Which would have pleased the Tory MP Robert Halfon, who said recently: "We have to be able to show that we speak for hard–working couples …".

Singles have no one to speak for them. But they are also known to work, often even harder than their coupled-up colleagues, who tend to sneak off early to cook Bolognese together and snuggle up in front of Antiques Roadshow.

It is even harder for singles to get on the housing ladder than couples, because two people usually have twice as much money as one. Does the Government think that "young couple" conjures up an image of love's young dream, left cruelly out to freeze in the snow, while talking about the old or people living alone will just make voters think of Scrooge? Does it think that people can't empathise with "people"?

Governments love polls. In 2010, we learnt that singles spend an average £250,000 more than couples over their lifetimes. In 2011, it told us that it intended to solve the problem of single people by "promoting marriage". But in 2012 we discovered that most single women prefer it that way.

Sorry, Government, but the silent single minority is not going away, and every poor, tragic, single one of them has a vote. It might be as well to practise saying the word "people", instead of "couples", before the next election.

twitter.com/@katyguest36912

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Middleweight

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's fastest growing full s...

Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

£35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

Recruitment Genius: Commercial Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Estimating, preparation of tech...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will work as part of a smal...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron has reiterated his pre-election promise to radically improve the NHS  

How can we save the NHS? Rediscover the stiff upper lip

Jeremy Laurance
 

Thanks to Harriet Harman, Labour is holding its own against the Tory legislative assault

Isabel Hardman
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada