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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!

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)

PeggyCarter Wed 04-Jul-12 18:27:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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.

InMySpareTime Wed 04-Jul-12 18:56:01


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.

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