IN 2017, women are pushing for equal rights in and out of the workplace and just this week the UK Committees of Advertising Practice announced that outdated sexist stereotypes like the do-it-all housewife are to be banned from TV commercials.

Into this brave new world drives Hamish Betteridge: Oxfordshire’s first Hire-a-Hubby.

Arriving in his Hire-a-Hubby van, Mr Betteridge can help out with (almost) any job that a husband might traditionally have performed, from putting together flat-pack furniture to tiling the kitchen or doing some decorating.

His clients include women and men – this week he has been doing a spot of painting for an elderly man in Blackbird Leys.

But he admits the name has certainly raised a few eyebrows – and even a few awkward questions from female clients.

Mr Betteridge, who lives happily with his partner of many years (but not wife) Joannah and their son Kit, three, in a village just outside Bicester, said: “I have had people say things like ‘are you going to be working late?’ and one lady of a certain age said when she saw the logo, ‘the neighbours will be asking questions’.

“I had a lady the other day who said ‘I wasn’t sure about the name, it does seem a little usual... you don’t do anything else, do you?’ and I was thinking ‘just the curtain rails!’”

The Hire-a-Hubby business was actually started in Australia, where it boasts hundreds of husbands for hire – including several women.

Mr Betteridge, 50, who has been a 'hubby' fora few months, said: “I think it is an Australian thing – the Aussies are a lot more relaxed about making gender jokes.

“I lived in Australia for a few years so I know they’ve got a good sense of humour.”

Mr Betteridge said that he and the 13 other UK hubbies joked that the colour of the magenta shirts was ‘man-genta’.

Mr Betteridge actually became a full-time hubby after a major career change: for years he was director of a corporate security company, working for banks and other international institutions.

The job took him abroad regularly, so when Kit arrived he agreed to try a new sort of work where he could spend more time at home, and says his partner is not remotely bothered by his new job title.

Asked why he thought the Hire-a-Hubby model was thriving in the UK he said: “I am sure there’s an element of convenience.

“People are working longer hours, there’s not that nine-to-five system where you always have the weekend free.

“If you’re commuting, by the time you’ve got back, had dinner and watched a bit of TV it’s 9pm.

“Besides that, a good handyman is reliable, and the Hire-a-Hubby name gives you that reassurance of quality.”