This country has the worst unemployment benefits in northern Europe

August 3, 2023  -Money given to the unemployed is just 17% of their previous in-work income, but how does your country measure up?

New figures have shown which country in northern Europe offers the worst unemployment benefits.

Analysis of official OECD data by the Scottish National Party (SNP) revealed the UK has the worst safety net for the unemployed, lagging far behind its European counterparts.

After two months of joblessness, the UK provides its citizens support worth 17% of their previous in-work income – compared to 90% in Belgium.

The UK replacement rate is substantially lower than every other northwestern European country, including Luxembourg (85%), Norway (78%), Denmark (78%), Iceland (75%), Switzerland (74%), Sweden (72%), The Netherlands (69%), France (66%), Germany (66%), Finland (57%), Austria (57%) and Ireland (54%).

A reason why the UK was compared to these countries is they are similar in terms of economic development. Comparing it to less economically advanced countries in southern or eastern Europe would be facile.

“The Tories have torn apart the social security safety net – and the pro-Brexit Labour Party is making it worse by admitting it would keep the most damaging Tory cuts, like the two child cap and bedroom tax,” said the SNP’s Social Justice spokesperson, David Linden MP in a statement.

Analysis by the pro-EU and independence party found the UK had the worst unemployment benefits among its European counterparts for every year of the 21st century.

It found the replacement rate was also getting worse throughout this period, starting at 20% of in-work income in 2001 to its lowest-ever level in 2022 at 17%.

Unemployment in the UK is less than the Eurozone average, standing at 4% in May 2023 compared to 6.4% in the euro area.

The findings come amid growing controversy over the levels of state support for lower-income households, amid bruising inflation.

Governing since 2010, the right-wing Conservatives have slashed the UK’s social security safety net; introduced a two-child benefit cap; a bedroom tax (which cuts benefits if you live in a house with an extra bedroom); frozen local housing allowances and cut universal credit.

Over the last decade, the number of children living in poverty has risen by around 600,000, while half a million more pensions are in poverty, according to the government’s annual ‘households below average income’ report.

The British anti-poverty charity Joseph Rowntree Foundation in June claimed a lack of state support and rampant food price rises were forcing millions to cut down or skip meals.

However, the opposition Labour Party – which is tipped to win the upcoming next general election – recently caused an outcry by saying it would keep many of these policies.

“[Labour leader Kier] Starmer and Sunak are lurching to the right and taking millions of pounds in vital support away from families during a cost of living crisis,” said the SNP’s Linden.

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