More must be done to encourage British stay-at-home mums back into employment according to a report from the European Council.
The report suggests that British women are almost twice as likely to be stay-at-home mums compared to their European counterparts, with the percentage of women who are inactive or work part time due to personal or family reasons was around 12.5 per cent in 2013, almost doubling the average of 6.3 per cent across the rest of the EU.
The European council said that “social challenges persist” despite the UK employment rate reaching 76.5 per cent in 2014 and the latest set of figures from the ONS suggesting that unemployment is down to 5.5. per cent.
“The United Kingdom is experiencing macroeconomic imbalances which require policy action and monitoring,” the report said.
“The difference in the share of part-time work between women (42.6 per cent in 2013) and men (13.2 per cent in 2013) is one of the highest in the EU and the proportion of children living in jobless households in the United Kingdom is still one of the highest in the EU.”
The government has already pledged to do more to get more women back into work, with £2 million a year already ready to be invested including a increase of free childcare in England for 3 and 4 –year olds to 30 hours per week.
The European Council added that more needed to be done however: “Even if supply in the childcare system has increased recently, the availability of affordable, high quality, full-time childcare remains a key issue.”
The report forms part of an assessment of all European economies and was given to Chancellor George Osborne at a meeting of finance ministers.
The recommendations have come under fire from MPs and campaigners who say that the Council had “no right” to “lecture” mothers.
Another area of concern that was highlighted was the youth employment and the mismatch between education and skills in the UK.
“A large proportion of young people have comparatively low levels of basic skills,” it said.
“The implementation of measures to address welfare reform and childcare has been limited.”
The report recommended that the skills mismatch could be addressed by increasing employers’ engagement in the delivery of apprenticeships