The British Isles are the worst
place to live in Europe, according to a new survey that claims residents endure
higher prices, work harder and receive poorer public services than their
counterparts on the continent.
Britons pay more for food and fuel
than other European citizens, while spending more time in the office per week
and enjoying less sunshine.
Their disposable income levels are
also falling behind residents of other countries, and funding for health and
education is below average.
Only Ireland fares worse than
Britain in an updated quality of life index for Europe compiled by uSwitch.com,
as the republic has fewer hours of sunshine, a higher retirement age and lower
public spending on essential services.
Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer
Policy at uSwitch.com, the price comparison website, 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.”
Last year’s league table of 10
leading European economies – assessing income, prices, working culture and
public spending – put Britain in last place.
This year it has jumped above
Ireland but in some respects Britons are now faring worse than residents of
Britain now has the fourth-highest
retirement age of any country – averaging 63.1 years – and is set to rise still
Net household income after tax, at $58,180
a year, is now lower than the amount earned in Ireland, the Netherlands and Denmark.
This is likely to fall still
further when VAT rises to 20 per cent in the New Year, while public services
will suffer following next month’s Comprehensive Spending Review, which will
lead to budget cuts of up to 40 per cent in some Whitehall departments.
France and Spain again topped the
quality of life index, as workers there have more paid holidays, earlier
retirement, lower prices, longer life expectancy and more sunshine.