Biba is looking to boost its ability to lobby government by commissioning research into the value of brokers to the UK economy.

The association is currently undertaking a 'beauty parade' of a number of academics, with a view to commissioning one to begin the research in early 2006.

Peter Staddon, head of technical services at Biba, said: "We are starting a pro-broker programme to show their worth.

"We will put it in the public domain, but we will also use it to inform government when we are discussing certain issues.

Staddon said: "It will help it to understand what brokers are worth to the economy and the implications of any decisions it makes."

He added: "Brokers are worth a huge amount - a couple of billion pounds - to the UK economy."

The move follows Biba's recent criticism of the marketing campaigns of some direct insurance companies which it claimed unfairly criticised brokers.

"I get annoyed when companies say to people they can save money if they cut brokers out of the [distribution] chain," said Staddon.

"It brings the industry into disrepute - it is a cheap shot."

He added: "We want to show the positive impact that brokers have on UK plc and consumers."