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Unum calls on Government and employers to ‘break the cycle’ of financial stress and lost productivity costing the economy £121 billion

15th November 2017

  • Financial stress costs economy £121 billion
  • Policy changes needed to ‘break cycle of money worries and lost productivity’

Employee benefits provider Unum is adding its support to Financial Capability week and calling on the Government to ‘break the financial stress cycle’ costing the UK economy £121 billion a year.

Liz Walker, HR Director of Unum UK and a member of the Working Age Steering Group of the Money Advice Service, said:

“Money worries are the biggest cause of stress to the working population and there are 27 million people in the UK that wouldn’t be able to cope with a significant reduction in their income1. Unexpected drops in income account for two-thirds of debt problems and we know that people with debt problems are in turn twice as likely to develop major depression.

“The only way to break the cycle that causes money worries to result in lost productivity is to make changes at a policy level. A comprehensive Government plan is needed to better build the financial capability of workers so they can prepare for the risk of being unable to work, while also enabling business to better protect their employees.”

In its report, ‘Building a healthy, productive workforce’, Unum set out four key initiatives the Government should adopt to give employees the support they need to stay in work and to prepare them in case they cannot:

  • Introduce a temporary tax break for SMEs to invest in Group Income Protection (GIP) to improve people’s work and health outcomes
  • Deliver a coordinated plan to build the financial capability of working people so they can prepare for the risk of becoming too ill to work
  • Implement a protection statement that shows working people the income they could expect from their employer and the state should they become too ill to work, and signposts them to information on how to improve their financial resilience
  • Create a robust and pragmatic regulatory environment that supports innovation and economic growth while protecting policy holders

Employers can also ensure they are doing what they can to protect themselves and their employees. Liz Walker added:

“Providing financial education resources, tools, guidance and comprehensive protection benefits are key actions employers can take.

“We believe income protection products should be supported by employee advice services that can help employees with concerns that can impact on their mental health and also rehabilitation support to enable more people back to work.”



Notes to editors:

‘Building a healthy and productive workforce’ was published by Unum in May 2017, ahead of the UK election.

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1 Financial Advice Working Group report (2017) ‘Financial well-being in the workplace: A way forward’