Opting Up

What happens to us if we become too unwell to work? This is a difficult question, one which few of us wish to face. But this is not simply a question for individual workers. It is one for policy makers and employers too. The cost of disability and sickness in the UK workforce is inflated – for the Exchequer and for employers – by our relatively low levels of protection against the financial shocks of sickness.

This report is the last in a series looking at financial security in the British workforce and exploring what can be done to improve our collective and individual resilience to these financial shocks. This report includes original polling which finds that UK workers are underprotected when it comes to replacing their income should they be unable to work. Half of us have less than one month’s salary saved and only 11 per cent of us have insurance designed to safeguard our living standards.

It argues that the solution is unlikely to come from further state provision. Despite disputes over cuts to specific benefits, none of the three major political parties advocates significant increases to welfare spending. The solution proposed within rewards individuals for ‘opting up’ rather than opting out of state provision. This means the state safety net remains intact, but individuals and employers can work together to enhance it for themselves and their families.