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3.2 million couples rely on both incomes to survive

18 November 2015 | Press release

  • 3.2 million couples in the UK rely on both incomes to make ends meet
  • Nearly half of all couples are dependent on a double income to pay for essentials
  • A third of households would have to make significant lifestyle changes if they lost one of their incomes

New research shows that 3.2 million [1] households are now reliant on two incomes to make ends meet, and would struggle to cope if they lost one of their incomes.

According to protection specialist LV=, nearly half of all cohabiting couples (45%) are dependent on both incomes to pay for essentials, with one in seven (14%) couples admitting to struggling even with two incomes. We’ve all heard of DINKYs (Double Income, No Kids Yet), but the worrying rise in couples who need both incomes to survive leaves us with millions of ‘Double Income, No Options’ households (DINOs).

Although some depend on both incomes to keep a roof over their heads, an additional three in ten couples (29%) 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, a third (34%) admitted they would have to make substantial changes to their lifestyle if one partner was unable to work. Three in five (59%) would have to cancel holiday plans, while one in five would sacrifice gym memberships (21%) in order to save money. Others would have to make more drastic changes like downsizing their house (13%) or asking family for additional help with childcare (10%).

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

Half of couples (47%) say that 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 more difficult - as most double income couples said their combined wages weren't going as far as it was this time last year.

Despite relying on two incomes, most of (64%) of the households surveyed had no income protection, leaving them vulnerable if one member was to become ill or injured. A quarter of couples (25%) 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.”

[1] Research carried out by Opinium on behalf of LV= found that 16% of people in the UK are part of a couple that relies on two incomes to make ends meet. There are 40,193,000 working age people in the UK, which means that 6.4 million people are part of a couple that is reliant on a double income. Therefore, the number of couples affected is 3.2 million.


The research was carried out by Opinium Research from 6-9 October 2015. The total sample size was 2,003 British adults over 18 years old and was conducted online. Results are weighted to a nationally representative criteria.

Liverpool Victoria Financial Services Limited, registered in England with registration number 12383237. County Gates, Bournemouth, BH1 2NF, UK