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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!

TodaysAGoodDay Wed 04-Jul-12 11:50:47

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!

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