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Cohabiting couples such as PM and girlfriend 'fastest growing family type'

By Joe Gammie, PA

Cohabiting couples such as Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his girlfriend Carrie Symonds are the fastest growing family type over the last decade, new data has revealed.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), published on Wednesday, showed the number of cohabiting couple families increased by 25.8% from 2.7 million in 2008 to 3.4 million in 2018.

The ONS said this rise may be explained by an increasing trend to cohabit instead of marrying or to cohabit before marriage.

Mr Johnson and former Tory spin doctor Ms Symonds are the first unmarried couple to officially live in Number 10 and had previously been living together at her flat in Camberwell, south London.

The total number of families in the UK has also risen by 7.6% from 17.7 million in 2008 to 19.1 million in 2018, in line with the growth in the UK population over this period of 7.5%.

The ONS defines a family as a married, civil partnered or cohabiting couple with or without children, or a lone parent, with at least one child, who live at the same address.

Married and civil partner couple families were the most common family type in the UK in 2018, accounting for two-thirds of the total number of families.

But the ONS said that since 2008 the share of married couple families had declined from 69.1% of all families while the share of cohabiting couple families has increased from 15.3% to 17.9%.

Cohabiting families were the second largest family type followed by single-parent families, it added.

The new data also showed the number of same-sex couple families surged by more than 50% from 152,000 in 2015 to 232,000 in 2018.

The number of people living alone rose to more than eight million for the first time in 2018, up from 7.7 million in the previous year, the ONS said.

This was driven by increases in women aged 45 to 64 and men aged 65 to 74 living alone, it added.

The data also showed that in 2018 one in four young adults - 3.4 million - aged 20 to 34 were living with their parents, a similar proportion to last year.

ONS population statistics division statistician Sophie Sanders said: "The number of families and households in the UK has continued to rise in line with the growth of the UK population over the past decade.

"However, the ways that people live have been changing.

"While married couple families remain the most common, cohabiting couples are the fastest growing family type as people increasingly choose to live together before, or without, getting married.

"There are also more people living alone than ever before, an increasing number of same-sex couple families and more young adults living with their parents."

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