Elliot Lane fears this industry will end up footing the bill

' Britain, Britain, Britain. In the world of Lucas and Walliams it was invented in 1958 by Sir Henry Britain.

But outside the realm of the BBC comedy Little Britain, UK plc as it stands has been reinvented by Gordon Brown and his Treasury advisers, and is doing very well at the moment.

Benchmarked against its direct rivals in Europe, particularly France and Germany, the UK economy outpaces them in the areas of interest rates, tax and economic growth.

But the significant difference is in unemployment. The bane of the both Labour and Conservative governments over the past 30 years has, according to official figures of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), dropped to an all-time low. Its registered figure for unemployment during January to March 2005 was 1.41 million.

Good as that may sound, the DWP is concurrently fighting an ongoing battle with absenteeism from work.

Government officials are determined to find a way to get nearly one million workers back to work. That's one million people, if the official figures are to be believed, off the unemployment statistics who are being paid by the state.

According to recent CBI surveys, UK business loses around £12bn a year through sickness absence. Each absent employee costs each company roughly £600 a year, and last year 168 million days were lost due to absence. But many companies are unaware of the true financial impact.

A revelation is on the way, however. In November the first reading of the Compensation Bill will take place and the insurance industry will again be in the spotlight of government legislation.

Government sources indicate that the Bill will look to legislate all parties in the 'claims arena', and they will be classed as the same. So claims managers, insurers and lawyers specialising in policy handling will face another piece of regulation.

The government is keen to push forward the idea and practice of rehabilitation, because it makes the statistics look better and gets people back paying taxes for the good of UK plc. A worthy cause.

Those worried that a 'no fault' system similar to the US workers' compensation scheme is on the horizon are right to be.

US rehab specialists are eyeing up the market and the Department of Constitutional Affairs is interested in the concept.

With the long-term problem of a pension crisis on his hands Mr Brown will get people back to work any way he can - no doubt seeing the cost and over-regulation of this industry as a small price to pay. IT