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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!

Done. Why isn't this at the top of Active convos with one of those little square M thingys?

LadySybildeChocolate Wed 04-Jul-12 11:53:51

Without meaning to be rude, Anne, a lot of mumsnetters already live off this amount, sometimes less. Maybe you should ask them? A week isn't going to be difficult to do, and the average person living on SSP will be off work for longer than this. Over time, it's draining and stressful and a person experiencing this for only a week won't have the same problems as someone who lives off this long term. It's like being a 'single parent' for an evening, versus being a single parent for years. It's just not the same.


AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 04-Jul-12 12:42:28

Thanks for your comment LadySybildeChocolate. Unum say "We realise a lot of people already have to face this situation, but this would be a stiff challenge for a significant number of people who earn more than this amount. When we asked the question in our recent survey on Mumsnet, nearly 2/3 said they wouldn't be able to live on this amount, showing that for them it would be a struggle. The challenge is designed to highlight how important a regular monthly income is and to get Mumsnetters to think about putting plans in place should they be unable to earn a living through long-term illness or injury. In reality, someone on SSP is likely to only be off work for one or two weeks, we're asking folks to do this for a week just to get a snapshot of what their initial thoughts and actions are when faced with this challenge". HTH

LadySybildeChocolate Wed 04-Jul-12 13:08:10


Trills Wed 04-Jul-12 13:10:42

Does this include bills/rent/council tax/etc? Or just "spending"?

weasar Wed 04-Jul-12 13:23:23

I'd be up for it but not sure it would really be relevant as there is only me and DH, no children.

TheSecondComing Wed 04-Jul-12 13:26:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Trills Wed 04-Jul-12 13:32:28

I may do some maths and write a blog post but I don't think I could "officially" participate as I will actually have to go to work and that completely changes my spending patterns. (e.g. I would not buy train fares or takeaway coffee but I would be eating more food at home)

Luckily my company is pretty good with their sick pay.

Lancelottie Wed 04-Jul-12 13:41:21

What about 'normal' outgoings that you have already committed to but would inevitably ditch if you had to (I'm thinking music lessons, pocket money, cleaner --I wish--)? Payments for school trips? Dental appointments? Fuel to get to work? Internet costs?

I think what I'm trying to say is that our lives are currently arranged to spend more than that, and would take some rearranging so that we didn't actually incur these expenses. OTOH, just ignoring half of what the money goes on seems like cheating.

Trills Wed 04-Jul-12 13:43:22

To do it properly you'd also have to think about things that you don't buy every week - e.g. a portion of your phone bill, or of the car tax.

Trills Wed 04-Jul-12 13:43:54

We are just being unhelpful and messing up your simple plans with out complicated thoughts, aren't we MNHQ?

suzikettles Wed 04-Jul-12 13:44:38

I think it would be useful to clarify exactly what you mean by "live off £85 for one week".

We do live on £85 per week at the moment as dh is on statutory sick pay and my wages pay all the bills for the month, so the £85 is for all groceries and any other incidental spending on a weekly basis. Is this what you mean? It's quite hard but completely achievable because of my other income plus child benefit.

Or is it £85 per week including any tax credits, housing benefit and child benefit?

We couldn't live on £85 per week if that was all we got over the month, but as a family with children this would never be the case.

Chubfuddler Wed 04-Jul-12 13:46:22

I don't see how a family which usually spends much more than that could suddenly rearrange themselves not to. Not without cheating.

Trills Wed 04-Jul-12 13:49:30

From the links in the OP it looks like the £85 (£95 in that blog) was only for "spending" on food, petrol, etc - not for any kind of bills.

That blog is difficult to navigate by the way - I couldn't see a button for "next" or "previous".

tabulahrasa Wed 04-Jul-12 13:50:07

How would it work? With things like mortgages and bills, are they ignored or do you have to take them out?

Katz Wed 04-Jul-12 13:53:50

i'd be interested but does the £85 inc bills also i have a well stocked fridge freezer so going into next week which seems slightly cheating.

suzikettles Wed 04-Jul-12 13:54:13

Oh well, I might sign up then. Or am I disqualified because we do this every week?

poorbuthappy Wed 04-Jul-12 13:54:25

I'm sorry MNHQ but I think this is a load of bollocks.

There is something not right aboutt a company whose trade is "income protection" promoting themselves in this way. As pointed out above £85 isn't all a family with children would have to survive on if something happened, so this doesn't make sense.

I can't really put into words why this doesn't sit well with me, so I'll stop trying now. If I manage to get some sense out of myself I'll come back.

If I can't I'll bugger off and leave you all alone!

suzikettles Wed 04-Jul-12 14:00:35

Hmm, yes poorbuthappy.

I'm guessing they're wanting people who will go "Horrors! I couldn't go to Starbucks for my morning latte" rather than "bought value everything, took sandwiches and walked to work, told ds that no he couldn't have a comic, didn't go out (again) and I've got £2.50 left over".

Trills Wed 04-Jul-12 14:04:29

Freezer and cupboards are already full, so £85 for next week would be pretty easy if you don't count my train fares (which I wouldn't be buying if I wasn't going to work).

LemarchandsBox Wed 04-Jul-12 14:05:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Wed 04-Jul-12 14:07:56

"Unum were previously involved in helping to create the All Work Test (AWT) and the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) for incapacity benefit and employment and support allowance. They recently tried to persuade individuals to take out income protection insurance to cover long term sickness. In its marketing of the product Unum referred not only to the low level of sickness benefits but also to the difficulties involved in actually claiming and receiving benefit.

Unum’​s Chief Marketing Officer, Marco Forato, explains the decision to stop selling individual protection insurance products as being based on the belief that “​the workplace is the best place to get income protection...It makes cover more affordable and also enables individuals with pre-existing conditions or high risk people to get cover they may not be approved for with an individual policy.”​

I'm guessing this is more to do with them trying to flog health insurance.

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 04-Jul-12 14:39:08

Thanks for the comments - Unum say "Basically the challenge is to think about how you'd copy if one salary in the household (your own or your partners, if you have a partner who does paid work) was reduced to £85, so any other benefits or credits would be included, but you would need to think about paying all the usual bills"

poorbuthappy Wed 04-Jul-12 14:39:10

Ahem LemarchandsBox has said it sooo much better than me!

Indith Wed 04-Jul-12 14:48:31

ok so I just did 85*4 plus CHB for 3 dcs plus tax credits at current level (so below the level they would be if we were only on £85 a week. I took off mortgage and bills for the month and was left with over £50 a week. Am I missing something as that would be easy and I'm pretty bloody sure that if dh were to lose his jobv/be on long term sick life would not be easy.

Pointless survey. A huge portion of the UK population are living this reality every week in life. Some are worse off.

One week doesnt reflect the true stresses these families face.

I'm quite insulted actually.

BonnieBumble Wed 04-Jul-12 15:05:01

After housing and commuting costs we do live off a similar amount despite having a decent income so nothing would change, if we had to try and put petrol in the car we wouldn't be able to because we spend more than £85 in 2 days on fuel so unless we decided to take a "sickie" for 2 weeks it just wouldn't work.

I think this experiment is flawed.

susiemumof Wed 04-Jul-12 15:07:36

Also think it makes no sense, I spend £90 on petrol this morning but my costs for next week will be £0.

I think I would need to average my spending over at least 5 weeks to find out how little we could survive on.

aharan Wed 04-Jul-12 15:08:00

i think its a very interesting topic to explore in the current economic scenario. with such high childcare costs, all of us struggle to get that extra luxury we always desired.

PostBellumBugsy Wed 04-Jul-12 15:26:37

MN I don't understand how this will work.

If I look at my weekly outgoings, after all major bills have been paid, then I don't usually spend more than £85.

Living off £85 a week after bills have been paid is easy for me. Living off £85 a week - or £4,420 a year total - probably impossible.

Please can you be more explicit as to how you see this working?

spammertime Wed 04-Jul-12 15:27:09

Agree this is totally flawed and full of what ifs! My DH spends £75 a week on petrol. But if he lost his job he wouldn't have to spend that. If I lost mine he still would.

It seems like getting people to pretend to be poor, what jolly good fun! And then next week it's all back to normal, so who cares? And it's all pretending anyway, so when the £350 car bill comes in, well it's not like it really counts, hey?

More interesting and less patronising would surely be "can you genuinely live off a £50 supermarket shop for a week", or actually asking some genuine low income households how they cope. Otherwise this all seems a bit like Pulp's Common People to me.

KatieBMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 04-Jul-12 17:07:06

Thanks for your comment ItsAllGoingToBeFine. Unum say:

"While Unum attended the first meeting with the DWP to feed into the assessment criteria for incapacity benefit. The system design was managed by other organisations and Unum had no involvement or visibility of this. Also our campaign, which began in June last year, has only ever been about getting people to ask for Income Protection through work. We no longer sell individual policies, but we never promoted these directly to consumers. Most group Income Protection schemes are usually fully funded by the employer, so employees are not required to pay any premiums in these circumstances."

Also for those of you who wish to find out more, you can read answers to common questions on Income Protection here:

moneythread Wed 04-Jul-12 18:24:59

OK, if I've read this properly, here we go, without wanting to sound very rich , and with a name change

If we lost my salary, we would be fine, just reducing the savings and mortgage payments.

If we lost DH's salary, and with an extra £85 per week, it wouldn't require much cutting back.

If we lost both salaries, there is no way £85/week would cover the mortgage, let alone anything else, but we do have savings we could live off for a while.

We are very very lucky to be in such a stable situation, but we have also had the opportunity to save, due to choices we have been able to make such as living in a house half the cost of the mortgage they offered us.

If you asked me to live off £85 for a week after bills had been paid, for one single week, it would be fine. If you asked me to do it for a month, I'd have to think hard, if I had to do it long term, or with no fixed end, I can't see if that was the only income to the house how it would be possible to pay rent, utilities and food - ie day to day essentials, let alone anything more. As a student a lot of years ago, I seem to remember living off £100/week, including rent, but that was for ONE person (and no alcohol)

DH has been on SSP since February and I can't work atm - do I get an Amazon voucher? grin

GrassIsntGreener Wed 04-Jul-12 18:51:01

Ha! I wish we had £85/week to live off!

GrassIsntGreener Wed 04-Jul-12 18:52:06

Oh, for just food etc that is. Otherwise no way could £85/week cover mortgage, council tax and other bills.


LineRunner Wed 04-Jul-12 19:22:57

This is just silly and meaningless, really.

nailak Wed 04-Jul-12 20:22:14

i dont get it

surely those on SSP live on that plus chb plus child tax credits

so for me that would be £140 on top of the £85?

are people on ssp entitled to housing benefit, as I wouldnt beable to cover my rent with that amount.

Haberdashery Wed 04-Jul-12 20:24:48

I think it's meaningless, too. Unless Unum would actually like to give either me or DH a paid week off work to live on £85, you can't really do it unless you're a) already set up to spend a similar amount or b) you ignore costs of going to work (which are more than just actually getting there, usually - even the time spent there means that many money-saving options are not open to you). Also, it makes a big different whose wage gets cut to £85 in many households. In our household, if mine was, we'd be really skint but basically OK. If DH was earning £85 a week we'd be fucked, frankly, as it would not even pay half the mortgage. If I was earning £85 a week, it would be OK as I work mainly from home and don't have many costs of working (though I couldn't eg make trips to a few different shops to allow for cheaper prices even though there are about five supermarkets in walking distance because I wouldn't have time). If DH was on £85 a week while actually working at his current job, it would all get swallowed up in just getting him there and back and feeding him.

In conclusion, this is silly.

Although it would be v v interesting if people were to actually not work and do it properly.

racingheart Wed 04-Jul-12 20:39:24

We'll give it a go, if they're still looking for people. I understand the misgivings other people have, but it's still a challenge for people who usually live on much more, to suddenly curb their spending habits.

dementedma Wed 04-Jul-12 20:54:12

if just food, can do it. not if it includes petrol. We spend more than that a week just on petrol to get to work

msrantsalot Wed 04-Jul-12 20:55:27

I make less than £85 a week, and I'm a single parent.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Wed 04-Jul-12 21:08:51

Isn't the whole point of it that people say "OMG, £85 pw is so haaaard" and Unukm say look how hard it is to live on SSP, why not persuaed your employer to offer an Income Protection Scheme which Unum will of course happily administer

boredandrestless Wed 04-Jul-12 21:41:33

I can't take part as I don't earn an income/salary.

Tweedlydeedlydoodah Wed 04-Jul-12 22:44:19

I'll save you the haste of the research. I used to earn a fantastic salary ands now am living on benefits, but because there are no houses where I live, I have to make up the shortfall on the rent. I live on £60 a week and that is for me and my child. I didn't know before f

Tweedlydeedlydoodah Wed 04-Jul-12 22:47:42

Sorry... That you could buy a jar of coffee for £2.5O. I didn't know how much it cost for a pint of milk. I wouldn't dream of going into a charity shop. It is possible to survive, but there is no luxury and no room for being spontaneous. You can't even afford to get on a bus. At first, it is a challenge. Over time, it is not fun.

121 Wed 04-Jul-12 23:52:13

Ummm what? Whose job was it to come up with this question? Or is it a question to gauge how poorly equipped the Tax Credits system is at dealing with short term unexpected changes to income, especially for people who are not in receipt of other (more responsive) means tested benefits?

I really hope that's what it is because otherwise there's someone on (presumably) more than £85/week getting paid to put a question so ill-researched it makes medicine sick (to misquote the fabulous Muhammad Ali).

BoffinMum Thu 05-Jul-12 04:49:47

After childcare (£2200) and commuting costs (£400) I make £50 a week or thereabouts. Out if that I pay £299 a month for my leased car, also to get to work. So I make -£100 a month.

If I had to pay going to work costs out of £85 a week I think I'd just stay home and watch daytime TV. However if my costs were covered and I made £85 as well, I'd be a lot better off.

BoffinMum Thu 05-Jul-12 04:52:50

Btw having a thrift blog, I know how to live off that kind of money, but frankly if you do this for more then a few months in any normal situation your health would start to bomb.

Iteotwawki Thu 05-Jul-12 05:30:16

Given that my rent alone is £250 per week there is no way I could cope on £85.

I can't imagine many people would be able to cover basic housing costs on that much, let alone budgeting for monthly bills, food, transport etc.

My DH was off work sick for 3 months with pneumonia a couple of years back, but he still got full pay from his super lovely boss who didn't even put him as off sick as he said DH was "doing as much work as he could" even when he couldn't climb the stairs
Logically, I shouldn't lose his wages for this experiment, as he would still be on full pay contractually for 12 weeks, then 75% pay in perpetuity if he remained ill.
But my wages are only £150 a week anyway, so not a major factor in household finances.
Could we manage on £65 a week drop in income? Easily.
Am I ever thankful that DH has a brilliant sick pay package? Definitelygrin.
In fact, given he spent a month in hospital, we had more money coming in as Bupa paid out £100 a night for hospital stays.


Know you reckoned have £50 a week spare on your sums but have you allowed the week a child needs new shoes or a school trip or uniform or bigger than expected bill or a cooker or washer or something breaks Down

For example my ds2 got a letter for gcse trip in one week they want £38 add in 2 trips to ds3 school for things this week that's £44 ( have to go on train )

Doing it week after week is misarable far easier doing it for a week and thinking wow this is easy

Oh and in the 1990 last time around IS with 2am was £78 a week plus had another £15

Oo most my rent was covered bar £10 a week

And the rest had to cover everything gas /Electric as in winter your at home all day it adds up including nappys and I can tell you it is soul destroying . I did washing by hand for almost 3 months before I could afford new washer and remember sobbing with worry most night .

dementedma Thu 05-Jul-12 07:28:27

genine question here on some people's costs.
£299 a month for a lease car
£2200 for child care
£250 a week for rent.......

Where on earth do you all live? Are these London prices? Or do you just have fabulous homes/cars? grin
I have £100 a week mortgage and£120 a month car loan. Mind you, its a flat and a small car.

We overpay the mortgage, so if we had a drop in income, we could take a payment holiday for a couple of months. We also have savings for 6 months income, which would give us time to adjust our lifestyle. Our gas and electricity bills are technically negative (£42 a month, and we get around £150 every quarter for electricity we generate via solar PV).

Groovee Thu 05-Jul-12 08:00:19

8 weeks ago we were in this exact position except dh wasn't even entitled to the £80 a week that jsa would have been. Tax credits wouldn't help because it was based on last years earnings, child benefit was all we got.

Was he not entitled to SSP?

Indith Thu 05-Jul-12 08:04:13

TheHuman not as such, I was wondering what I was missing though as those calculations are with current level of CTC so if we really were on £85 a week CTC would be more so I can easily feed the family on the £50 then the additional CTC would be able to be saved for clothes etc and of course the dcs would get free school meals. (though that doesn't cover boiler breaking down, car repairs etc). But then it can't be that simple, I know it isn't that simple which is why the whole task is unrealistic.

Indith I don't think it was £85 per family member, it was £85 per wage earner. Does that make the difference?

PostBellumBugsy Thu 05-Jul-12 09:56:31

£85 per week is a total annual income of £4,420. There is no way a family can live off that, unless they are rent free & have some of their utilities paid to.

If I am wrong & there are people out there paying rent, utilities, clothing & food for a family on a total annual income of £4,420 - let me know.

I don't believe there are, & this is why I think this piece of research is flawed.

nailak Thu 05-Jul-12 09:59:25

demented no i dont live a fabulous lifestyle, my house is rubbish

Unum are part of ATOS. 70% of their decisions are overturned at Tribunal. People declared fit for work by ATOS have died waiting for their appeal.

They're involved in the decimation of our Welfare system. I'm shocked at HQ's involvement tbh.

gazzalw Thu 05-Jul-12 11:51:24

I'm assuming that this doesn't include utilities etc?

CouthyMow Thu 05-Jul-12 11:51:41

Living off £85 for ONE week is going to be VERY unrepresentative of the REALITY of living on that amount, week in, week out.

You are unlikely to have your cooker, washing machine, fridge freezer, kettle, all break in ONE WEEK, AND have your DC's grow and need new clothes and shoes, and there will be bills that can be put off for ONE week, that couldn't be put off for a YEAR, if you had to live on this amount EVERY year.

Are UNUM doing this research to try to say that SSP is too high? Because while it might be easy-ish to do for ONE week, to do it for a year would be considerably harder...

CouthyMow Thu 05-Jul-12 11:54:43

My thoughts too, Glitter.

Unum. <<Shudders>>

Do some Googling. Seriously.

Then come back on this thread and tell me whether you think MN should be trying to help them with research...

gazzalw Thu 05-Jul-12 12:00:27

I was discussing this with a parent. We decided it would be possible but probably only if you put off buying non-essentials which will need to be bought at some point. For example since Sunday DW has bought DS a new rucksack for secondary school (£10), DCs' friend a birthday pressie (£10), contributed money towards DS's teacher's leaving pressie (£5), paid for DD's school trip (£8.50) and that was all twixt Monday and Wednesday - that's nearly half of £85 weekly budget blown on items that had to be bought although not essential to life.... Personally I think it's going to prove to be incredibly difficult...hmm

CouthyMow Thu 05-Jul-12 12:10:30

Teacher's leaving prezzie - non-essential, it's nice but not necessary. Prezzie for DC's friend - non-essential, don't go to the party. School trip - non-essential, a luxury not necessary when faced with a choice between food and trip. New rucksack - non-essential, sew the old one up. My DC's have had the same school bags for 3 years now.

gazzalw - Those are the decisions that a lot of us have to make in situations like this!

SerialKipper Thu 05-Jul-12 12:24:15

Unum Chairman Ward E. Graffam: 'The impending changes to the State ill-health benefits system will create unique sales opportunities across the entire disability market and we will be launching a concerted effort to harness the potential in these.'

Thank you, Private Eye, issue 874, 16 June 1995, referenced in Soundings.

Unum have been up to their oxters in the dismantlement of the UK welfare state for well over a decade. They were a significant presence at the 2001 Woodstock conference on redefining disability as social deviance. Long article here: "A Tale of two Models: Disabled People vs Unum, Atos, Government and Disability Charities". Search it for Unum if you don't have time to read it all - but actually they form a major part.

Many of us here are living that redefinition of illness and disability. People too sick to be eligible for JSA are told they aren't sick enough for Incapacity Benefit/ESA. People who are defined as too sick to work by the new narrower definitions are being sent to do workfare (my Jobcentre recently confirmed this to me in person). Carers are being told they will no longer count as carers, although their caring load hasn't changed. And because they aren't carers not only will they not get Carers' Allowance, they will actually be treated as unemployed and penalised if they do not seek full time work.

Why are Unum doing a poorly defined "challenge" on MN? They want you to get scared and buy their products. It's a double win for them really: reduce state benefit payouts and people will go private to fill the gap; redefine disability and the private insurance company doesn't have to pay out either.

Here's p4 of Unum's 2011 Annual Report:
"We also sponsored research in the UK, where consumers face a very similar challenge. With only 11 percent of Britons covered by private disability insurance, the vast majority rely on the government to provide financial support if they become incapacitated. In spite of the huge cost to the government of providing these benefits, however, the level of protection is inadequate for most families to meet their basic needs... As in the US, private sector coverage can better protect the individual while at the same time relieve some of the burden on the government through reducing public assistance outlays.... [my note - no mention of the fact that 'public assistance' is National Insurance that consumers have already paid premiums for]

"... I continue to believe that Unum is uniquely positioned among benefit providers to capitalize on these opportunities.

"Since the value of our products and services extends well beyond the individual, and we now see the impact to public policy, we have taken a much more active role in creating awareness among policymakers in both the US and UK about the the importance of employer-sponsored benefits - especially to those at lower and middle income levels who often lack access to this critical protection.."

I think I feel a tweet coming on....

gazzalw Thu 05-Jul-12 12:34:30

Well the rucksack is for secondary school and has to conform to colour regulations so it is essential I'm afraid to say.

I guess we could play the "I can't afford to pay for school trip!" card with Head as I gather payments are voluntary but I'm guessing that she would probably think we were joking...

I don't think we're going to like this very much at all if we are chosen. I already get the impression it will mean not having any type of a life at all!???

SerialKipper Thu 05-Jul-12 12:36:17

p5 of 2011 Unum Annual Report
"Regardless of the environment, looking ahead we believe we have outstanding opportunities to profitably grow our business in selected markets...

"As in the past, if we execute our plans well we will continue to generate excess capital. Our track record shows that we have been very effective in returning that capital to shareholders, and we expect to continue this in 2012."

So there you have it.

You can have a non-profit National Insurance system, where premiums are hypothecated and which exists for purpose of supporting the nation's old, ill and vulnerable.

Or you can have a private insurance system which exists for the purpose of making profit for shareholders, and in which the old, ill and vulnerable are simply a means to an end.

(NB Under both systems non-NI funds will also end up being used to support some of the poorest - the government being insurer of last resort in both cases. Now how does that sound familiar - oh yes, the banks: privatise profit, socialise risk.)

Yep, Unum scares people into taking out its insurance whilst reducing Welfare. Nice eh?

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 05-Jul-12 15:52:10

Hi all - thanks to everyone who has applied so far....we'll be closing this off tomorrow am so if you're interested in signing up to take part please do so by then.

Glitterknickaz - Unum have asked me to post the following in response to your comments about ATOS "Unum UK and ATOS are two separate companies and have always been so. We currently have no relationship with ATOS Ltd, although did provide Income Protection to ATOS Ltd for ATOS's staff until September 2009"

Also - there is a link to a Q&A about the myths around Unum here:

Unum also say "We only sell group Income Protection policies, which are bought by employers to provide to cover for their employees as part of their employee benefits package. These are usually fully funded by the employer, so employees are not required to pay any premiums in these circumstances."

TheSecondComing Thu 05-Jul-12 16:06:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

notocrap3 Thu 05-Jul-12 21:24:05

i think people are overreacting a little here.i doubt they would use mnr comments to change the benefit system bit far fetched..

read the blue box comments

"Please note quotes from the challengers may be used on the Unum pages on Mumsnet."

LineRunner Thu 05-Jul-12 21:33:04

This is an extremely stupid thing for MN to do. Really cringey.

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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

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".

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 00:43:12

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 00:51:08

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 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...

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's doable as long as there is a light at the end of a short tunnel!

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...

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.

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 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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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).

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?

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

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

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

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...

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

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

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