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How’s life in the UK? Long hours and high housing costs says OECD report

The survey also found a comparatively high incidence of people stuck in low-paid jobs in the UK.

Britons are burdened with higher housing costs, longer working hours and more low-paid work compared with many other developed nations, a report has found.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) How’s Life? Report 2017 placed the UK in the bottom third of member nations for working hours and housing affordability, and found a comparatively high incidence of people stuck in low-paid jobs.

The report, last issued in 2005, offers analysis of a nation’s general well-being across a variety of “indicators” (measurements) concerning health, income, employment, environment, housing and personal safety.

The report analysed data from each of the organisation’s 35 member states, including older members such as Germany, France, Greece and the United States, and newer OECD countries such as Israel and Slovenia, which became members in 2010.

The latest instalment showed that nearly 12.7% of British citizens are regularly working 50 hours or more per week, 12% are facing unmanageable housing costs and 19% are working in low-paid employment – marking the findings as “deprivations” for falling behind two thirds of other member states.

In particular, young people fared badly on a comparative inequality scale, with young-to-middle aged citizens marked in the bottom third of OECD member nations for several categories including free time, political engagement, household income and adult skills.

British women were also found to have lower household incomes than their male counterparts despite working longer hours, the report showed.

(PA Graphics)

But the UK generally fared well against the majority of other member states, in its high rate of employment (74% against an average 67% in 2016), low rate of homicides, and good access to social support, with 93% of those asked saying that they have friends or relatives on whom they can count in times of trouble, compared with an OECD average of 89%.

In total, the country was ranked in the top third of member nations across 15 of the 20 measurement indicators.

As the fourth instalment of the How’s Life? Report, the 2017 analysis reveals “pockets of both high and low inequality” across all participating countries, according to the OECD, as well as a breakdown of who is most likely to be a key beneficiary or victim of particular gains and decreases against each indicator.

In general, the report showed that men aged 25 who did not attain upper secondary education live nearly eight years less on average than university educated men, with the gap at nearly five years for women.

(PA graphics)

Similarly, measurements concerning income and wealth demonstrated that, on average, just 10% of households in OECD countries own 52% of all household wealth.

OECD secretary-general Angel Gurria said: “The report provides yet further evidence that the scars of the crisis have not healed.

“Many people feel that the benefits unleashed by openness and globalisation are not reaching them and their governments are failing to respond to their needs.

“The urgent challenge for policy makers is to find ways to engage effectively with all citizens, work to improve their well-being and help restore their trust.

“We need to ensure that growth and development are truly inclusive and translate into better lives, without leaving anyone behind.”


From Belfast Telegraph