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NOW CLOSED: Could you and your family live off £85 a week? Take part in the Unum challenge and find out. There are 10 lots of £100 Amazon vouchers to be won.

(103 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 04-Jul-12 11:44:39

Unum, the Income Protection providers, are looking for 50 Mumsnetters and their families to take part in the Unum Challenge. You may remember we recently conducted a survey for Unum with regards to managing your finances. The results to one question revealed that only 28% of Mumsnetters think their family would be able to live off £85 per week - so Unum now want to put this to the test! Last year they ran a project with a blogger and you can read how she got on here and here.

How would you cope if your salary (or your partners salary) was reduced to £85 a week? Why £85 a week? - because this is all that you'd be entitled to if you were unable to work through illness or injury and you were receiving Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). (Of course you may also be entitled to sick pay from your employer or via an income protection scheme).

The aim of the challenge is to show how families cope with living on this amount - the challenges faced and to explore what families see a priority expenditure and what can be dropped. Please note quotes from the challengers may be used on the Unum pages on Mumsnet.

For this challenge Unum are looking for families who have at lease one income earner in the household - and we are looking for those with a range of incomes, a range of family sizes and both those for whom this challenge sounds ok and those who think it's impossible.

If you are selected to take part then Unum say "we would like you and your family to see how you'd cope if one of the wages in your household was reduced to £85 for one week and to tell us about your experiences on a feedback thread. If you live in a household with just one wage, this represents a stiff challenge, but even in households with two wage earners it may well make you think more about what you're spending".

Challengers will need to give diary-style feedback on a thread of what they spent and on what - and how they managed to cut down on spending and what areas where impossible to cut down on. We'd like challengers to behave as normally as possible but to really think about what is being spent and what could be reduced/ removed from the weekly budget. You'd also need to consider other resources you may have access to including savings, benefits, loans and family support.

The challenge will start next Monday 9th July and last a week. Challengers will need to add feedback ideally three times a week across the week along with a final summary of their thoughts and a conclusion as to whether they passed the challenge or not. You don't have to reveal personal spending habits/ income on the thread if you don't want to - and you are welcome to name change.

Please only apply if you are around w/c 9 July to add feedback.

Research conducted by Unum shows 64% of UK private companies only offer their employers SSP if they are off work for longer than four consecutive days. This is the legal minimum they are required to offer by law, entitling employees to only £85.85 a week (in this current tax year), rather than their usual salary.

As a thank you for taking part, as well as hopefully saving some money, Unum can offer £100 of Amazon vouchers to 10 lucky challengers who add feedback as required. You will need to give feedback three times during the week plus a final round up of your thoughts.

So if you'd like to take part in the challenge, please sign up here. It's open to all UK Mumsnetters.

Thanks and good luck!
MNHQ

121 Wed 11-Jul-12 23:36:45

Oh dear, have they reopened this under another name??? bollocks

CouthyMow Sat 07-Jul-12 21:23:56

Unless they deem your health issue to be one that was pre-existing but undiagnosed, in which case their 'income protection' products wouldn't be paid out to you anyway.

And there's many ways existing insurers use that as a get-out clause already - which I have personal experience of - that they claim symptoms of my epilepsy had been misdiagnosed as depression, and therefore my income protection didn't pay out...

And Unum are even worse, my insurer was one that used to have the Name of a county, but now has changed names...

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 06-Jul-12 16:45:31

Thanks to everyone who signed up - I will send you the info over a bit later on today or tomorrow. Owl - I've taken you off the list.

Thanks for all the comments about this challenge - certainly food for thought.

Unum's challenge is designed to get folks thinking about income protection generally - by thinking about expenditure in their family and also about what plans they have in place should the unexpected happen. It's not trying to generate stats or to replicate exactly what it would actually be like - more to capture reactions across a short space of time (to get a snapshot). That said, we at MNHQ, do acknowledge that the challenge could be seen as perhaps insensitive to and by some.

We know money, benefits and the like can be tricky - and touchy - issues on MN and that folks' circumstances vary wildly within our community. However, we also recognise that companies such as Unum can provide a product that may help families in certain circumstances. We know it's not for everybody though and we wouldn't dream of suggesting that it is - something that holds true for all products we run product tests and surveys on or carry ads for.

Best, MNHQ

LineRunner Fri 06-Jul-12 11:23:23

This company will now be boasting 'As endorsed by MumsNet'. What a shame.

OwlsOnStrings Fri 06-Jul-12 10:18:46

Hi - I had volunteered, but hadn't thought it through.

Or, more to the point, I assumed that it had been thought through by the company organising the exercise. But there are no answers here about mortgage, benefits, or anything else that might be used to "normalise" the research. Therefore, I have to conclude that it's only an advertising exercise. (I don't mind advertising when it's combined with at least some attempt at proper consumer research.)

MN, how would I go about withdrawing my application to take part in this?

difficultpickle Fri 06-Jul-12 10:12:13

MNHQ posted a comment from the survey organiser saying it is for people who may spend a couple of weeks on SSP and how they would survive on that. All it means is you would have £85 for two weeks instead of your usual income (assuming you didn't also get CB and tax credits). So for me that would be a substantial drop in salary - say losing half a month's pay. But it wouldn't put me on the breadline not knowing where my next meal is coming from. All it would mean is I'd economise on food shopping.

When I was made redundant I went through all my bills to see what I could cut back on (checking I was on the cheapest gas/elec tariff etc). I was surprised to discover that I was already on the best deals around and the only thing I did cut back on was food shopping. That was relatively easy as I was home all day so had the time to do lots of cooking from scratch (which is something I struggle to do when I'm working full time and long hours).

tabulahrasa Fri 06-Jul-12 09:41:22

It's completely silly though because either you're paying for everything out of £85 and that would only cover my mortgage and gas and electric for a week (turns out my mortgage is less than some people lease cars for) so I wouldn't be able to live on it at all, or it's after bills - which means that no-one is actually living off £85 at all.

So what is the point of it?

difficultpickle Fri 06-Jul-12 09:34:35

How bizzare. I 'lived off' Job Seekers Allowance for 3 months last year. In reality I paid my bills out of my notice period salary and tried to live off £62.50 a week. Had I been renting I would have got HB but the only benefit I did get other than JSA was council tax stopped. I am employed now and easily spend less than £85 a week on food,petrol, activities. Really can't see the point of this survey at all.

Fair or not, there's a 1 in 5 chance of winning a £100 Amazon voucher (assuming they get 50 people to sign up)
If I get the voucher, that's DS's birthday sortedgrin.

Grumpla Fri 06-Jul-12 08:56:06

Nope, I still don't see how it qualifies as a test at all.

There are no clear parameters, so no way of meaningfully comparing the different feedbacks from those who sign up or drawing any conclusion from them. It's almost as if the whole exercise is just meant to generate bland, meaningless soundbites to add a veneer of authenticity to a marketing campaign that's already been mocked up.

I think CouthyMow and others have raised some very valid points regarding the ethics of this exercise which Umum/MNHQ have spectacularly failed to address.

Even those posters who have indicated their willingness to participate haven't had their questions about bill proportions, CTCs etc answered fully.

LineRunner Fri 06-Jul-12 08:17:28

I still think this is one of the most stupid and insidious 'tests' that MN has ever promoted.

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 06-Jul-12 08:04:19

Hi - we always prefer to post on behalf of a client rather than allowing them free reign on the thread which is why I have posted for Unum. They are reading all the comments.

The feedback from this won't be used to create stats.

thanks if you've applied.

CouthyMow Fri 06-Jul-12 07:51:17

That's my point, grumpla. MN are answering for Unum, rather than Unum themselves responding to those of us who have issues with them.

CouthyMow Fri 06-Jul-12 07:50:10

InMySpareTime - my PCT will only prescribe 6 400g tins a month, anything I need over and above that has to be paid for out of my benefits. And I get no extra money to do so!

Grumpla Fri 06-Jul-12 07:47:27

If Unum wish to answer comments made on here they should be able to post themselves, just like anybody else.

I don't like the sound of this one little bit and I certainly don't like seeing MNHQ acting as their sock puppet.

CouthyMow can't you get allergen free stuff on prescription? I still get prescription Wysoy for my 10yo DS. It can't hurt to ask, might save you some much-needed money.

CouthyMow Fri 06-Jul-12 07:39:28

I Don't get their school photos. And I wish they were only £9, they charge £15 for the cheapest pack here and you can't get an individual one, the school uses one of those photo companies that 'artfully' arranges the DC, so it costs more than a traditional school photo...

gazzalw Fri 06-Jul-12 07:28:42

I think it is a 'putting off the evil day" type of research study. If it's just for food and other stuff (and not utilities) then I'm sure most of us could just about do it but without buying stuff that would need to be bought at some point.

Yes, some of the items I've mentioned are, I guess, 'fripperies' in the context of scraping by on £85 but we would consider that these are not luxuries but every day expenses. On top of those things we had DD's class photo to pay for (another £9) and will have DS's one and the sibling one to pay for probably next week.....

DW was talking to one of her school friend mums whose husband isn't working but isn't claiming benefits either and she is part-time nursery nurse - she was saying they've had to manage on £30 per week before now when things have been very tight....it's doable as long as there is a light at the end of a short tunnel!

CouthyMow Fri 06-Jul-12 01:48:52

And if you are talking about £85 after bills, I'd have my hand out - after bills and food, I am in negative numbers, an extra £85 would be brilliant if you're offering.

However, if it's £85 for food, nappies and cleaning stuff for 5 people, two with severe allergies, I'd be screwed, as I can't get my shopping under £160 no matter HOW much I shop around.

You'd be surprised just how much dairy&soy free formula costs...£15 for 400g tin that lasts 2/3 days when you are using it in cooking as well as milk for a 17mo...

CouthyMow Fri 06-Jul-12 00:51:08

And allowing them to personalise their response directly to Glitterknickas, even though she is far from alone on this thread in stating her uncomplimentary opinions of Unum.

Considering I know Glitters' personal circumstances, her DC could EASILY be affected by being refused sick pay from an employer who had a Unum health benefits policy, due to their pre-existing conditions.

And like me, Glitter is not just going on gut feeling, but on well researched information about Unum's policies, and how they REALLY work in America, and how they are aiming for them to work in the UK.

We are NOT people who have major paranoias, or conspiracy theories, but people who have researched how future Welfare changed will affect us and our DC's.

And it is disingenuous of Unum to state that they are not involved with Atos except for providing employee insurance to them - what Glitter and I were talking about is the fact that for the last 10 years or do, Unum representatives have sat on a fair percentage of panels involved in Welfare reform, and have been instrumental in shaping Welfare policies now and in the future.

CouthyMow Fri 06-Jul-12 00:43:12

Unum are NOT an altruistic company, and tbh, I am a bit shocked that MN is promoting them and allowing them to answer back THROUGH MN staff, against people's non-complimentary comments about them.

IMO, Unum are little more than a legalised version of the protection rackets that used to exist whereby a thug would go into a shop and demand protection money. Though if you had already been burgled, you would get more protection from the racketeer than a person with a pre-existing disability would from having an employer who held a Unum health benefits policy...

CouthyMow Fri 06-Jul-12 00:37:06

But AnnMn - even this group insurance provided by the employer WON'T COVER ME OR THOUSANDS LIKE ME WITH PRE-EXISTING DISABILITIES.

So while every other employee in that workplace might be covered, we won't be. And no doubt as 'everyone' who is employed 'will' be covered by employer insurance, the Government will see no need for SSP. Leaving people like me with no income.

You only have to look at America to see this system in action. And it is people like me that will be the direct losers, reliant on a form of public assistance akin to that in America, which is frankly derisible.

CouthyMow Fri 06-Jul-12 00:32:31

gazzalw - what it means in practice, if you can't pay for the 'voluntary' my arse contribution for the school trip, is that your DC doesn't GO on the school trip that every other child in their year is going on, and they will have to sit with a different year group.

The bag - you ONLY buy black bags, and you see them up until there is nothing left to sew up. And you save for 6 months to have the £30 to buy another one that will last and TAKE being sewn up so much.

Of course it's not fun.

And did you know that the income protection Unum will offer WON'T cover you for a pre-existing condition like my epilepsy?

So they take away my Incapacity Benefit by making ESA impossible to get, then leave people who USED to get IB to drift, and call them "collateral damage".

LynetteScavo Thu 05-Jul-12 21:42:40

You think I haven't thought about this already? You think I didn't wake up at 4.30 am and stress about this when we were earning just enough, but nothing extra to pay for payment protection policies? hmm

I can tell you now we couldn't live of £85 per week. The house would be repossessed. I don't need to do some "challenge" to realise this.

I am a grown up, not 13

TheSecondComing Thu 05-Jul-12 21:37:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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