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Making Sure It Really Does Pay to Move Overseas

23rd October 2017

Low pay is endemic in the UK - and there is little progress in the number of people managing to escape from poorly paid jobs, according to a new report by the Social Mobility Commission.

The ‘Great Escape?’ report was conducted by the Resolution Foundation, and explores trends in low pay over recent decades. It finds that just one in six low-paid workers managed to permanently escape from low pay in the last decade. Meanwhile, a quarter of low-paid workers remained permanently stuck in low pay, and nearly half fluctuated in and out of low pay over the course of the last 10 years.

The Rt Hon Alan Milburn, chair of the Social Mobility commission, comments: ‘Britain has an endemic low pay problem. While record numbers of people are in employment, too many jobs are low skilled and low paid.

“Britain’s flexible workforce gives us a global economic advantage, but a two-tier labour market is now exacting too high a social price.”

With the nation suffering one of the highest proportions of low-paid work in the developed world, there are knock-on effects on people’s lifetime living standards. And for those moving from the UK to other areas of the globe, there may be more than a few nasty surprises in store if they are not fully prepared.

Rob Dolbear, managing director of relocation specialist HCR, adds: “Moving home whilst keeping a job with your current employer can be a real eye-opener. Those who are relocating to other corners of the globe will notice subtle - yet fundamental - differences that come with moving to another country. Aside from the possible language barrier, the cost of living may be much higher elsewhere and, if your wages are the same as they were in the UK, this could pose a problem.

“We help many clients move their employees abroad, sometimes on a temporary basis and occasionally permanently. Many of the businesses we work with understand there may be a discrepancy between a worker’s wages here, compared to their counterparts in the new country. They deal with this accordingly, much like they might with ‘London weighting’. But it doesn’t always work that way.

“Our role also includes helping relocating employees understand what their new living standards will be, and what they are likely to be able to afford.

“To accept a relocation package, the salary or the role must have been an adequate temptation, but what can seem like a reasonable salary in the UK might not stretch too far when considering how much further it may have to go in a new home. From medical fees in countries like the United States to over-inflated fuel prices in Norway, Turkey, even the Netherlands. Residential electricity prices across Europe alone vary widely, with London actually one of the cheaper capitals compared to Berlin, Prague, Lisbon and Bucharest.

“And again, gas prices will seem a shock in Stockholm, Lisbon and Belgrade, each capital sitting well above the average gas price bracket with London actually Europe’s second cheapest.

“Combine this with property prices, food bills, taxes and a UK salary that would have seemed ‘okay’ at home could look very different depending on the new destination.

“By taking any surprises out of their future cost of living, those relocating can concentrate on settling into their new life and make sure it proves to be exactly the right choice for them.”