Almost as many UK employees believe that they are as likely to win the lottery as they are to be struck off work because of sickness for 12 weeks or more. That’s the startling key message to come out of a recent survey for income protection provider Cirencester Friendly.
With revelations like this, is it any wonder that a worryingly large income protection gap has emerged in the UK?
For the survey, YouGov polled over 2,000 UK adults on behalf of Cirencester Friendly and discovered that a significant number of British workers have not adequately planned for a long-term absence from work due to illness or injury.
More than two fifths (41%) of workers said that if they were off work, their finances wouldn’t last longer than three months before they encountered financial difficulties. Furthermore, over half (53%) said they would look to the state to support them if they were off work for any length of time due to illness or injury.
However, the reality is that many British people would struggle to make ends meet if they were unable to work and having to rely on Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). At present, SSP provides just £88.45 a week for up to 28 weeks. Thereafter, depending on an individual’s circumstances, that rises to between £102.15 and £109.30.
Many People Face a Significant Financial Shortfall in the Future
But with current UK average earnings at £488 per week, even relying on SSP temporarily would result in a significant financial shortfall for many UK employees.
Cirencester Friendly warns that with over 2.5 million people (Office of National Statistics figures) in the UK currently unable to work for three months or more because of illness or injury and claiming illness-related benefits, Britons are at risk of a chronic income shortage.
With a lack of savings and/or income protection measures in place, people in the UK could find themselves in financial dire straits in the future if they are unable to work due to sickness unless they change their “it won’t happen to me” attitude, according to Cirencester Friendly.
Talking about the survey’s findings, Rebecca Young, Head of Marketing at Cirencester Friendly said:
“Government support is intended as a safety net only and, on its own, will not allow you to maintain your current way of life. The state’s average support of just over £100 per week represents a fraction of the average UK earnings which stands at £488 per week. Whilst the vast majority of people will not be affected, those who do suffer the misfortune of an extended leave of absence and have not put adequate protection in place face serious financial hardship.”
She added that the survey should serve as a wake-up call to the UK population, highlighting that a dramatic reduction in income inevitably results in difficulty paying mortgages, rent and bills, as well as buying food.
As advisors, we agree with these findings and understand how crucial it is for us to ensure that our clients have put adequate safeguards in place should the worst happen.
Les Schroeter head of protection at Premier Choice Group says “we are only human and as such we are susceptible to illnesses and accidents, and when they occur they can play havoc with our lifestyle. The above YouGov survey shows that if we lose our income because of accident or illness, even with the assistance of the state, the average earner will lose more than 75% of their income. It is well worth taking action now to secure our income to protect our lifestyles, and this is best achieved by effecting an income protection plan”.
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