UK and Ireland bottom lose Euro quality of life league

16-07-2008

UK and Ireland bottom lose Euro quality of life league
Quality of life in the UK and Ireland is lowest among ten European countries.

Spain, France and Germany were deemed to have the highest quality of living – while the bottom of the table was taken by Poland, the UK and Ireland.

Research by uSwitch reveals UK wages were highest after taxes – but Brits faced the second highest petrol costs and the highest diesel values.

High gas and electricity bills also took a bites out of the UK's status.

While annual energy bills stood at £519.38 in Germany, £594.31 in Denmark and just £247 in Poland, a UK household's average gas and electricity bill came in at £889.68.

Retirement age in the UK was also second highest behind Ireland and the British workers had the shortest holiday entitlement – a week below the European average.

Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch.com, said: "We may earn substantially more than our European neighbours but, when it comes to quality of life, we remain the 'sick man of Europe'.

"Soaring food prices and inflation - not to mention high property costs - are placing the biggest squeeze on disposable incomes in well over a decade. With below average investment in health and education, it appears that we are getting a raw deal from the government for the fruits of our labour."

She added: "With the global economy stuck between a rock and a hard place the Bank of England has already warned consumers to brace themselves for the most difficult economic conditions in two decades.

"British households are facing huge financial pressure as take home pay stagnates, inflation continues to rise, and economic growth and house prices fall."

"The UK is not a pretty picture but consumers can help themselves by evaluating their household expenditure to see where they can make savings. There are positive signs that consumers are already cutting back, curtailing spending and trying to clear outstanding debt. As long as we take hold of the reins on our household budgets, we can influence our standard of living and improve our overall quality of life."

With the quality life flagging in the UK, it was unsurprising the UK headed the emigration league – with 41,026 Brits leaving the country in 2006, up 30 per cent over the previous five years.

Commenting on the findings, Liberal Democrat shadow chancellor Vince Cable said: "It is depressing but unsurprising that while so many families struggle to make ends meet, we have one of the lowest qualities of life in Europe.

"With soaring food bills and energy prices, this report highlights the many pressures British families are facing."
He added: "There is now a real danger that as the economic downturn takes hold in the UK, we will once again become the sick man of Europe. It is critical that ministers act now to help those hit hardest by soaring debts and household bills."

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