Biba says DWP reneges on pledge to create working parties

Doubts have emerged over the substance and timing of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) second report into the employers' liability (EL) insurance market.

Biba chief executive Mike Williams has raised concerns about a lack of action following the release of the DWP's first report in early June.

The first report said that the DWP would work with stakeholders to help develop the basis for more risk-related premiums, consider alternative dispute resolution arrangements in order to address legal costs, define how rehabilitation can play a more central role in the workers' compensation system and consider the merits of separating long-tail occupational disease from accident risks.

But Williams said that, to date, nothing had happened. "Having been told that we were going to be involved in at least three [working parties] we'd like to know what's going on," Williams said.

A DWP spokeswoman could not confirm that any working parties had been formed. The department has also done a backflip over the timing of the second report.

It was initially thought that the report would be delayed after a cabinet reshuffle saw Work Minister Nick Brown replaced by Desmond Browne in June. But on 31 July, a DWP spokeswoman told Insurance Times that "work is ongoing" and the second report would be released in September.

But this week the DWP revised the timetable, with a spokeswoman saying the report would be released "in the autumn".

The DWP spokeswoman said the second report would provide detail of "the progress that has been made and any further steps we intend to take".

To date, the only demonstratable action to have come out of the DWP's review into the EL insurance market was the announcement on 6 August of a joint ABI/Biba Statement of Good Practice. The statement recommends that ABI and Biba members give businesses at least 21 days notice if a decision is taken not to renew a liability policy.