By Claire West

The Spending Review announced on Wednesday set out fundamental changes to the provision of incapacity benefit. It sends a clear signal to the UK’s workforce about the need to take personal responsibility for safeguarding their future in what are uncertain times, says financial protection provider Unum.

“For a long time, the insurance industry in the UK has sought to encourage private provision to enable workers and their families to protect themselves from the potentially devastating impacts of illness and injury,” comments Jack McGarry, CEO at Unum.

“It’s clear from the Spending Review that the state is looking to the private sector to step up and enable the country to start to close its vast protection gap,” McGarry continues. “Unum already works with thousands of businesses in the UK, providing protection to people who would otherwise find themselves in financial hardship. People are beginning to realise the implications of the Government changes, including those to incapacity benefit, which will introduce a 12 month time limit for many claims from 2012.”

Although Unum provides financial protection to individuals, the bulk of Unum’s policies are provided to employees through the workplace. According to McGarry: “The role that businesses play in giving workers access to protection benefits, whether on a voluntary or funded basis, will be critical. We want to see provision extend beyond the higher management echelons, where it is currently focused, to all workers, and we are committed to enabling that through providing flexible, affordable solutions.”