A four-day week with no pay loss would save parents thousands of pounds in childcare and commuting costs each yea, according to a think tank.

The left-wing think tank Autonomy says on average a parent with a child aged under two would save £1,440 in childcare and £340 in commuting costs over the course of a year.

Campaigners and economists in favour of a four-day work week have emphasised the benefits to workers.

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This comes in the form of more leisure time and potential productivity gains that allow businesses to do the same amount of work in less time.

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Autonomy, which is a direct supporter of the four-day-week campaign, said the policy would also help workers struggling with rising living costs, with the UK currently experiencing high inflation, particularly in energy bills.

The commuting cost calculation is based on a 2019 survey of 2,000 full-time, part-time, and self-employed people from across the UK, which yielded an average annual bill of around £1,700.

For a family with one child, the average annual childcare cost was estimated to be £7,200.

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According to Trades Union Congress data for 2021, working parents spend significantly more in many parts of the country.

The analysis comes as a ground-breaking UK pilot of a four-day week nears completion.

The six-month trial, which began in June and will end in November, has attracted 73 companies employing approximately 3,300 people.

At the halfway point, the majority of businesses taking part will continue once the pilot has ended.

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The 4 Day Week campaign, which is directly supported by Autonomy, is running the trial.

The trial is thought to be the world’s largest scheme of its kind.

Since the trial’s inception, the first local authority in the UK has committed to experimenting with a four-day week.

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South Cambridgeshire District Council’s desk-based staff will begin the new pattern in January, with further trials involving refuse collectors possible after that.

Joe Ryle, the 4 Day Week campaign’s director, said the anecdotal response so far had been overwhelmingly positive, and the change could help to ameliorate the cost-of-living crisis.

He said: “There have definitely been difficulties for some companies.

“But it looks like the vast majority will be sticking with it permanently.”

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Any assessment of the potential financial benefits of a four-day week would have to take into account spending on leisure activities on the extra day off, as well as costs such as home heating bills.

If employees and children stay at home.

Academics hope to analyse the trial to better understand the benefits and drawbacks of working fewer hours per day.

Will Stronge, director of research at Autonomy, said: “The benefits of a four-day week for the wellbeing of workers and boosting productivity are well known, but the impact it could have on the cost of living has so far been overlooked.

“A four-day week with no loss of pay could play a crucial role in supporting workers to make ends meet over the next few years.”

Source: The Guardian

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