The UK is facing a cost of living crisis, with spiralling energy, fuel and food bills creating a major squeeze on income and critical expenditure. This is having a significant and widespread impact. According to official sources, 83% of adults in the UK reported an increase in their cost of living in March 2022, with household income not expected to recover until Q3 2024. And low-income households, who spend a larger proportion than average on energy and food, will be the most affected, with an extra 1.3 million people expected to fall into absolute poverty in 2023, including half a million children.
All this adds up to a concerning picture for employers who are also facing business pressures from the same spiralling costs. Of course, ensuring fair and equal pay for their workforce will always be the first port of call for any responsible employer. However, building on this fundamental, business leaders and HR teams are now looking for other ways to update their benefits packages to provide additional, much needed support to boost employees’ finances, while at the same time helping with their physical and mental wellbeing.
One employee benefit that many organisations are now assessing and adding to reward packages, is employer-paid health care cash plans. These plans, a comprehensive but much less costly alternative to private medical insurance, pay employees money back towards everyday health care expenses. This puts money directly back into employees’ pockets and helps them budget for and afford their health care , so treatment isn’t as much of a worry.
Health care cash plans – Sovereign’s options are the comprehensive Asset or budget-friendly Merit – provide a low cost, accessible way for businesses to offer health and wellbeing support to every employee, from just a few pounds per month. Cash plans pay employees cash back towards their everyday health costs such as dental treatment, eye tests, glasses/contact lenses and physiotherapy. They also cover treatments that might be seen as more of a luxury, such as sports massage, acupuncture and reflexology.
Cash plans are quick and easy to implement and often include an employee assistance programme (EAP). These provide support, assistance and counselling on a range of issues, including stress and childcare, family and relationship matters, health concerns, and – crucially given the current cost of living pressures – financial worries such as debt management, benefits, tax and budgeting. What’s more, when you work with Sovereign, employees can access additional benefits including a 24-hour GP service.
One of the major pluses of health care cash plans is their accessibility; they’re a cost effective and realistic option whatever job your employee does. Regardless of the org chart and whether they are home, field or office based, or in a retail, warehouse or factory location, the plans can support them physically, financially and emotionally.
Offering health care cash plans as a core part of benefits packages can not only help alleviate the current pressures on household income, but also ensures health and wellbeing remains a business priority, which in turn can help to retain, motivate and attract employees and promote a happy, resilient and healthy team.