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Brits And Irish ‘The Worst Off In Europe’
11:17am UK, Wednesday September 22, 2010
Alison Chung, Sky News Online
The UK and Ireland are the worst places to live in Europe while France and Spain come out top for quality of life, a new study shows.
Study says quality of life in UK is a far cry from that in Spain
High living costs, below average government spending on health and education, short holidays and late retirement have kept the UK and Ireland at the bottom of the list.
France has taken the top spot for the second year running, despite families earning an annual net income of only £32,766 – £4,406 below that of the UK.
Significantly, the UK now no longer enjoys the highest net household income in Europe after falling behind Ireland, the Netherlands and Denmark.
This is a critical blow as people living in the UK were previously able to see a trade off between poor quality of life, but a relatively high net income, the study says.
While last year net household income in the UK was £10,000 above the European average, this year it is just £2,314 above average.
The uSwitch.com study examined 16 factors to understand where the UK sits in relation to nine other major European countries.
Variables such as net income, VAT and the cost of essential goods, such as fuel, food and energy bills, were examined.
Last year compared with our European neighbours we were miserable but rich, this year we’re miserable and poor.
Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch.com
Also too were lifestyle factors, such as hours of sunshine, holiday entitlement, working hours and life expectancy to provide a complete picture of the quality of life experienced in each country.
The UK pays the highest prices for food and petrol yet spends below the European average (as a percentage of GDP) on health and education.
Brits work longer hours, retire later, and receive less annual leave than most of their European counterparts, the study says.
They also enjoy less sunshine along the way and can expect to die two years younger than their French counterparts.
Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch.com, said: “Last year compared with our European neighbours we were miserable but rich, this year we’re miserable and poor.
“Whereas some countries work to live, UK consumers live to work. In fact we work harder, take less holiday and retire later than most of our European counterparts – but the high cost of living makes this a necessity rather than a choice.
“With salaries failing to keep up with inflation, it’s likely that we’re a long way from achieving the quality of life that people in other countries enjoy.”
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