S THE rich have got richer and those in work ever busier, people with children have discovered a new way of spending their money: on handymen to do the sorts of odd jobs fathers used to roll up their sleeves and take care of. Despite the recent recession, dads, it seems, would rather spend quality time with their offspring than put up shelves or fix dripping taps at the weekend. So their wives, themselves hard pressed, are hiring other men to change fuses and the like, thus making time to dine out, kick a football or visit museums en famille.
Domestic help has long been a mostly female preserve, involving nannies, cleaners and laundry maids. That is changing, according to a forthcoming study by Majella Kilkey of the University of Hull and Diane Perrons of the London School of Economics. The pair reckon that nowadays 39% of domestic helpers in Britain are men, up from 17% in the early 1990s; in London, many are also migrants. Many households hiring handymen already employ a small army of nannies, cleaners and gardeners.