ABI: Queen’s speech 2008 – preparing for the challenges of the future

Tomorrow’s Queen’s Speech 2008 is expected to contain several pieces of legislation of importance to the insurance industry and its customers, based on the draft legislative programme announced in May. In particular, the ABI is looking for developments on savings, flood prevention, banking reform, occupational health and equality.

Saving Gateway Bill:

Maggie Craig, the ABI’s Director of Life and Savings, said:

“Any measures to promote the savings habit are to be applauded. While the Saving Gateway is specifically focused on people on low incomes over a relatively short period of time, it could and should act as a catalyst for longer-term saving for retirement. We urge the Government to actively encourage pension saving by bringing forward proposals to allow automatic enrolment into workplace pension schemes, should employers want to offer that benefit, in advance of its planned implementation date of 2012.”

Floods and Water Bill:

Nick Starling, the ABI’s Director of General Insurance and Health, said:

“We support the Bill’s objectives – it must herald the implementation of a long-term flood strategy. In particular, we need an emphasis on tackling surface water drainage and the problems caused by Britain’s frequently inadequate and antiquated drain and sewer system. And adequate resources injected by the Government are essential to ensure that the growing flood risk is better managed.”
Banking Reform Bill:

Peter Montagnon, the ABI’s Director of Investment Affairs, said:

“A banking code is one thing, but what would really help is if the authorities were to knuckle down and make the money markets work better, so that banks have access to the resources they need to lend. Institutional investors would be very supportive of this.”

Welfare Reform Bill:

Nick Starling, the ABI’s Director of General Insurance and Health, said:

“Promoting vocational rehabilitation is essential if the Government is to reduce the number of people claiming long-term sickness benefits. Measures to achieve this, which we hope to see in the Bill, include:

. Abolishing ‘benefit in kind’ charges that employers have to pay when they purchase rehabilitation services
. Ensuring that relevant Government agencies promote the use of vocational rehabilitation
. Raising the profile of vocational rehabilitation with employers and others through information and awareness campaigns

“The recent Government pledge to change the ‘sick note’ system was a step in the right direction, but there is still room for more widespread reform to reduce absence levels, get people working again, reduce the costs of state benefits and increase productivity.

“The insurance industry is one of the biggest purchasers and providers of rehabilitation, which we see as a cost-effective measure that can reduce absence periods by a third. We want to see the benefits of rehabilitation extended to the entire workforce, and tax incentives for businesses to provide rehab services would certainly help to encourage their provision.”

Equality Bill:

Nick Starling, the ABI’s Director of General Insurance and Health, said:

“Insurers agree that unfair discrimination on the basis of age is wrong, and do not practice it. The Government, organisations that represent older people and the insurance industry agree that insurance premiums should reflect the risk presented by individual consumers.

“We hope the Bill will endorse this important principle. Legislation, no matter how well-intentioned, could have the unintended negative consequence of forcing some insurers to withdraw certain products altogether, reducing competition and availability and pushing up prices for all age groups.”

– ENDS –

Notes for Editors

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Kelly Ostler-Coyle 020 7216 7415 (Mobile: 07968 364 302)

2. The ABI is the voice of the insurance and investment industry. Its members constitute over 90 per cent of the insurance market in the UK and 20 per cent across the EU. They control assets equivalent to a quarter of the UK’s capital. They are the risk managers of the UK’s economy and society. Through the ABI their voice is heard in Government and in public debate on insurance, savings and investment matters.

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