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UK only placed 8th in Europe for childcare help.

Posted by: Megan Troster

Money saving website Voucherbox, has compiled a report around the support received by new parents from governments and employers across European countries.

The report shamed the UK into 8th place on a comparison scale of financial support. 

Voucherbox’s study found that financially, the best country in Europe to have a baby is Norway. New parents in the Scandinavian nation are able to claim the equivalent of up to £52,780 in child related benefits. This amount is equal to 15 months worth of the average salary in the country or 124.63% worth of the country’s average annual salary. However, the UK is miles behind providing at best £16,758 worth of financial support which equates to just 60.93% of the average UK salary.

Sweden is the second best on the scale offering up to £37,469.16 worth of financial support.

The lowest countries on the scale are Ireland with £4,095.30 worth of cash pay outs and Greece, which as the lowest on the scale provides only £3993.00 worth of support. However, it is worth mentioning that although Greece provides the lowest cash support, this is still 33.72% of the annual average wage of the country, whereas Ireland’s £4095.30 equates to just 16.20% of their average national wage. This means that Ireland’s parental benefits package is the least generous out of all the countries on the scale.

Voucherbox commented; “There’s a shocking level of discrepancy when it comes to the help available to new parents across Europe.”
Many mums across the UK have spoken out about the statutory payments, which have often left them struggling financially. This struggle is exacerbated by enormous childcare bills in the UK. The Family and Childcare Trust have reported that full time childcare for under two’s costs on average £212 per week and £274 per week in London. This is a serious hole in a family’s monthly income.

The most recent figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development have shown that the cost of childcare in the UK is the second highest across OECD countries, just behind Switzerland, and that parents in the UK with an average income spend 26.6% of it on childcare. Further, this looks set to rise because of the recent increase in the national living wage, which has pushed nursery costs up on average by 10% and it is likely that these costs will start to filter through to parents.

There has been a general consensus that George Osborne did not do enough as his time as Chancellor for working parents. In his 2016 Budget, Osborne announced changes to childcare, one of them being the Tax-Free Childcare scheme. This new government initiative, which will be rolled out from next year, will cover 20% of childcare costs up to £2,000 per child per year for children up to the age of 12. However, it is worth noting that this scheme will replace the current childcare voucher scheme, so parents won’t be able to apply for both support systems.

Last year also saw the UK government roll out shared parental leave. This scheme allows parents to implement shared parental leave and alongside this, shared parental pay. This means that if a mother opts to for shorter maternity leave, possibly due to financial restraints, she can then choose the rest of the leave as shared parental leave. This allows both her and her partner to share the leave and the pay. However not all businesses have entered into the new scheme.

The report provided by Voucherbox has highlighted, that for such a developed and rich country, the UK is significantly lagging behind its European peers when supporting new parents. Currently, anyone considering starting a family could be better off moving elsewhere in Europe to secure better benefits.



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