§ Mr. Alan Duncan
To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to prevent the closure of services provided in association with local government by the voluntary sector due to the unwillingness of insurers to provide public indemnity insurance; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Beverley Hughes
[holding answer 28 April 2003]I have been asked to reply.
I am aware of the problems being experienced by those in the voluntary and community sector, as a result of the volatility in the insurance market since 11 September 2001. It is deeply worrying that small groups of volunteers who are making a real contribution to their communities are being faced with such difficulty.
The Active Community Unit in the Home Office has set up the "Insurance Cover Working Group (ICWG)" to look into the situation and advise on practical solutions. The ICWG has engaged external specialists to undertake a study into the current position regarding the provision of insurance for the voluntary and community sector, including public indemnity liability, and to make practical recommendations that will bring relief to the problems.
The consultants report is to be delivered to the ICWG on 16 June 2003 when the Government will be better placed to consider actions and initiatives to address the issue of rising premiums and the withdrawal of insurance cover, that is in some cases affecting the voluntary and community sector's ability to deliver services.
Once the recommendations of the report have been considered, decisions will be taken to implement agreed practical solutions in partnership with the voluntary and community sector, the insurance industry, local authorities and Government Departments.