Best and worst places in Europe to have a baby - the UK fares poorly
If you're planning to have children, then the chances are that you've added up the financial assistance you can get from the government, calculated the maternity pay, paternity pay and parental leave, and faced a horrible hole in your finances. So it'll come as absolutely no comfort to hear that the UK gets less than half the support given to parents in other countries in Europe.
According to a study by Voucherbox.co.uk, the best place in Europe to start a family is Norway, where parents can receive up to £52,780 in child-related benefits. That's the equivalent of 15 months of average pay. It's followed by neighbouring Sweden, where parents receive £37,469 (119% of the average wage), and Germany, where they get £31,795 (94% of the average wage).
In the UK, by comparison, new parents receive just £16,758 in support - which is 61% of the national average wage, and puts the country 8th on the table - after Austria, Finland, Denmark and France.
This is exacerbated by the ruinously expensive childcare we have in this country. Figures from the Family and Childcare Trust show that full time childcare for a child under two costs £212 a week - or £284 a week in London. Even if you just sent them part-time, that would set you back £115.45 a week - or £6,003 a year.
The most recent figures from across the world were published back in 2011 by the OECD. At that point parents in the UK were spending 26.6% of the average family income on childcare and had the second highest childcare costs of any country in the OECD - after Switzerland. That figure is 40% of the average UK wage.
Things could be worse, however, as down the bottom of the table, Greek parents receive just £3,993 in assistance, followed by Ireland at £4,095, Portugal at £5,045, Poland at £6,989 and Spain at £7,112. In percentage terms, Ireland is the least generous, as it offers just 16% of the average annual wage to new parents.
At the moment, those planning a family could consider moving elsewhere within the EU in order to secure better benefits. A move to Germany, for example, would almost double the amount available from the state. Of course, given the ongoing Brexit wrangling, it's impossible to know whether this option will still be open to us in future - or whether we will qualify for the benefits.
But what do you think? Would you be tempted to make a move? Let us know in the comments.