Home Economics

British householders saving £6.8 billion a year on support services

'Cash in hand' home services have been severely cut back by the nation’s austerity measures, according to new research1 released today. A study for the AA Home Emergency Response service, the latest in the company’s State of the Nation series of reports, reveals that over 15 million Britons have cut back on home support services such as dog walking, cleaning, ironing or gardening, jobs that are typically paid for in cash.

One in three British adults (32%) says they have reduced or cancelled completely one or more services carried out in their home, compared to two years ago. As a result, these people have reduced their annual outgoings by a total of £6.8 billion, an average of £451.66 a year each.

The biggest impact has been on dog walking and cleaning which have been reduced or cancelled by 45% and 44% (respectively) of those using these services two years ago. One in three (33%) people have dropped their milk or fruit and veg delivery, while 31% of people who employed a gardener two years ago are now cutting their own hedges or mowing their lawns themselves.

Individuals have seen the biggest cost saving through reducing the hours their cleaner spends in their home, or stopping the service altogether. On average, those reducing or cancelling their cleaning service have saved £400.32 a year as a result. In total, the nation has cut over £1.1billion from its home cleaning bill.

The number of people cutting services and the savings made


Number of people using service two years ago

Percentage cancelling or reducing the service

Average annual saving per person

Total national annual saving

Dog walker










Milk, fruit or veg delivery





Gardening (inc hedge cutting and lawn mowing)










Window cleaner





Monitored burglar alarm





Car wash (at home)





Other home services





Although cutting back on a service could provide a short term saving, the impact of neglecting it could be a lot more expensive in the long run

Tom Stringer, head of AA Home Emergency Response

In addition to these home services, warranties and boiler maintenance have been affected by household austerity measures. 41% of the 13.6 million adults who had warranties for their appliances two years ago have reduced or cancelled them, while 16% of people who had a boiler servicing agreement have reduced or stopped it. In total, these measures have cut £3.3 billion off household bills.

Tom Stringer, Head of AA Home Emergency Response, said: "While there has been a lot of recent discussion over the morality of paying for services in cash, this research shows that many householders are cutting back on those services completely. When times are tough, it makes financial sense to do a lot of these tasks yourself wherever possible.

However, we would caution people against cancelling their boiler service. This will ensure their boiler remains running safely and at maximum efficiency – thus reducing their day to day energy consumption. Although cutting back on a service could provide a short term saving, the impact of neglecting it could be a lot more expensive in the long run."

7th September 2012

1 Research was carried out by ICM amongst a GB representative sample of 2,031 adults between 20th – 22nd July 2012.