UK sets good example for EU economy

In the week that the UK takes over presidency of the European Union, Tony Blair received a boost when research showed that the UK’s work and welfare model is better at creating jobs and improving working conditions than its European counterparts.

The UK’s approach – the so-called ‘Anglo-Saxon’ economic model – has been much maligned, by France in particular, for providing a poor deal for workers and people on low incomes.

But the Work Audit study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) shows that the UK’s particular combination of managed flexibility, minimum workplace standards and work-related welfare benefits serves both the economic and social interests of the country.

John Philpott, the CIPD’s chief economist, said: “UK workers, on average, enjoy higher salaries than their counterparts in major economies such as France, and the redistribution of income in the form of tax credits means the UK also now has a relatively low proportion of working poor by EU standards.

“Meanwhile, the constant talk of the UK’s ‘long-hours culture’ overlooks the fact that the UK approach also enables a relatively high proportion of people to work short hours, and helps many women achieve a better work-life balance.

“Likewise, the high level of employment protection offered to continental workers with permanent job contracts results in an equally high rate of involuntary, and often insecure, temporary employment,” Philpott added.

The CIPD’s Work Audit study also concluded that:

  • The UK lies third in the average pay league behind Luxembourg and Germany – well ahead of countries such as France, Italy and the Scandinavian countries.
  • The UK employment rate among those of working age is almost 75%, compared to the EU average of 63%.
  • About 70% of UK women of working age are in work, compared with fewer than 60% in the EU as a whole.
  • Youth unemployment stands at 11% in the UK, which compares with an average rate of 16% in the 15 main EU states.

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