August 8, 2005

 

British singles feel financially penalized

A story published today in the Guardian reported on the financial hardships of being single in the United Kingdom, some of which were highlighted by research from the national singles forum today.

The survey, which was carried out by Solo's Holidays to mark the UK's first national singles' week, claimed that singles are the UK's fastest-growing demographic, with some 48% of adults in Britain now living alone.

According to the findings, over three-quarters of those people feel financially penalised by the government because of their single status.

The research also found that some 79% of single people felt penalised by tax policies, while 93% felt the government could do more to recognise their needs.

Paul Samrah, partner at the accountants Kingston Smith, who took part in the forum, said that single people had difficulty with different tax issues depending on their stage of life. "There are undoubtedly different stages of being single in life and at times tax planning is just not available to singles," he said.

Mr Samrah said that council tax was unfairly set for all people living alone. Although single people are entitled to a discount, this is not set at 50% so they are still paying over the odds compared to one half of a couple. Stamp duty is also considered an expensive extra cost for single people. And inheritance tax rules are geared towards couples, with gift legacies designed for "other halves".

With the average house price today standing at 185,000, it is increasingly difficult for single people to take the first step on to the property ladder. In the survey, 55% of men and 45% of women said they felt a real lack of suitable housing. Some 73% of single people said they found property costs "prohibitive".

"There is no doubt that it is more expensive to live as a single person, and to be honest I can't see this changing in the near future," said Mr Samrah.

"Although the single-person household is certainly on the rise, there is simply no requirement for the government to change their current tax policies.

"To be frank, being single is a good tax take for the government."

Mr Samrah said there were measures single people could take to reduce the costs of living such as ensuring they had applied for the single person's council tax discount, and any other state benefits to which they might be entitled, such as child tax credit and working tax credit.