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■ 1. Introduction
2013 has been an extremely successful year for the RMI. In its centenary year we have had some huge successes on the policy front and we hope to continue this into 2014. This is my last Government Digest for the RMI and I would like to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and New Year, and to wish you every success for 2014.
It has been a quiet week for policy with everybody winding down for the holiday, however in Westminster news:
The Competition Commission has released its provisional findings on the state of the UK private motor insurance market, concluding that it is not working well for motorists (article two).
A minor shake-up in the Department of Transport has resulted in some responsibilities being transferred from Robert Goodwill MP to Stephen Hammond MP (article three).
November’s inflation and employment figures are very positive, with inflation at a four year low and unemployment decreasing (article four).
In European news, The European Commission has unveiled a draft law to tackle air pollution (article five).
For more policy updates follow @RMIRebecca
2. Competition Commission inquiry into the motor insurance market
The Competition Commission’s (CC) provisional findings on the £11 billion private motor insurance market have found that it is not working well for motorists.
The CC provisionally found that the complex chain for the settlement of non-fault claims increases the costs of replacement cars and repairs which in turn is passed on to the insurers of at-fault motorists. This results in higher motor insurance premiums for all drivers.
Whilst the National Association of Bodyshops agree with this sentiment there are concerns surrounding the conclusion and evidence that too many accident repairs are not carried out to the required standard, which the CC argue also increases costs in the motor insurance market.
During their many submissions to Competition Commission during the investigation, NAB stated that cost control measures being employed by certain insurers could have the capacity to cause incorrect technical behaviour in the repair process.
However, the NAB believes the statistically small sample of post-repair inspections undertaken by the Commission raises significant concerns about immediate conclusions that may be reached. Therefore NAB believe that a much larger sample of post repair inspections need to be analysed so further and more definitive conclusions can be reached.
NAB commented “The initial findings appear to address the issues raised by the NAB in their many submissions to the Commission during the investigation.
“The NAB will now review the provisional findings in depth in order to provide our members with a summary of the Competition Commission’s proposed plans to reduce the cost of motor insurance premiums.
“We will continue to liaise with the Competition Commission on the matter to ensure consumers as well as our members interests are represented during the next stages on the investigation.
“We will also continue to lobby for a pan-industry adjudicator, similar to that recently appointed for the supermarket sector. This adjudicator would act to address specific market concerns, to oversee any outcomes of the Competition Commission’s investigation and to prevent future car insurance market dysfunction.”
See full NAB press release here.
3. Change of responsibilities at the Department of Transport
A minor shake-up in the Department of Transport means that, from 1 January 2014, responsibility for motoring agencies, freight and logistics issues are being switched from Robert Goodwill MP to Stephen Hammond MP.
The full portfolio for each Minister is shown below:
Robert Goodwill MP
Stephen Hammond MP
Source: Department of Transport
4. Positive inflation and unemployment figures
Economic indicators released this week by the Office for National Statistics painted a positive picture for the state of the UK economy.
The UK’s inflation rate, as measured by the consumer prices index, fell to a four-year low of 2.1% in November, down from 2.2% the month before.
The Office for National Statistics said the change was caused by slower increases in food and energy prices.
The ONS said the prices of both food and non-alcoholic beverages were little changed between October and November, compared with a rise of 1.1% between the same two months a year ago.
The main downward contributions came from fruit, where prices rose by less than a year ago.
Transport prices also fell by 0.5%. However, this was less than the 1% fall for the same period last year.
The UK unemployment rate has also fallen to its lowest level since 2009, according to labour market statistics also released this week.
At 7.4%, this is the lowest rate since the February-to-April period in 2009.
The number of people out of work fell by 99,000 to 2.39 million in the three months to October, the ONS said.
This 7.4% rate compares with a figure of 7.6% for the three months to September, and is below the rate analysts had expected.
The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in November fell by 36,700 to 1.27 million.
Source: BBC News
5. Draft law to tackle EU air pollution
The European Commission has this week unveiled a draft law to tackle air pollution.
The proposals include new limits on emissions from power plants and industry, as well as measures to make member states comply with existing rules on limiting pollutants associated with asthma, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
So far, many member states are failing to enforce existing EU air quality standards, even though the rules are less rigorous than those set by the World Health Organization.
The Commission has said the eventual aim is to raise standards to WHO levels, but it has to balance costs to industry with benefits in fragile economic times.
The measures include revised legal limits on how much each member state can emit of a list of major pollutants, as well as a new law to cut pollution from medium-sized combustion installations, such as power plants.
But the tighter proposed limits on PM will pose problems for EU governments, many of which have struggled to meet the existing caps. Up to a third of Europeans are exposed to dangerous levels of PM pollution, official figures show.
The proposal will now head to the European Parliament and Council for debate. The Italian government has expressed an interest in making the proposals a priority when it takes over the six-month rotating presidency of the Council in the second half of next year.
This means that the proposals could become law before the end of 2014, if parliamentarians and European ministers reach an agreement quickly.
6. Westminster Diary
The House of Commons and House of Lords rose last night at 1700 for the Christmas Recess.
It will sit again on Monday 6 January 2014.
On Wednesday 8 January there will be a Ten Minute Rule Motion;
Driving Offences (Review of Sentencing Guidelines) – Susan Elan Jones MP