Being single carries a price penalty of at least £2,000 a year per individual, it has been claimed.

Research found it was considerably more expensive to live as a singleton than as part of a couple – with higher costs on everything from holidays to insurance, gym membership and even milk.

People taking a holiday alone have long been frustrated at not being able to split the expense, but experts say this pattern can be seen in many other aspects of life. For example, the typical band D council tax bill comes in at £1,670 for a couple – £835 per head – but a person living alone in the same property will pay £1,235.

When it comes to gym memberships, a couple will pay as much as £2,478 a year at a top-class establishment with a pool, tennis courts and fitness suites, which works out at £1,239 per head. However, solo membership carries a mark-up of £177.

Even National Trust membership is cheaper at £114 for a couple, which is £57 per head, compared to the £69 charged to a single person.

Experts from the Good Housekeeping Institute said the problem extended to putting food on the table, with many products sold only in large sizes that one person could not consume before the goods went off.